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THE EPIC OF AMERICA 








THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


JAMES TRUSLOW ADAMS 


With Illustrations 


BOSTON 

LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY 
1931 ■ ^ 



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Bv James Tri^slow Adams 


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rUK ATI.ANTJC MOJiTiiEV Ci-MI^ANV 



Sail — sail thy best, ship of Democracy ! 

Of value is thy freight — \ is not the Present only. 

The Past is also stored in thee ! 

Thou holdest not the venture of thyself alone — not of the western 
continent alone ; 

Earth’s resum6 entire floats on thy keel, O ship — is steadied by 
thy spars; 

With thee Time voyages in trust, the antecedent nations sink or 
swim with thee, 

With all their ancient struggles, martyrs, heroes, epics, wars, thou 
bearest the other continents ; 

Theirs, theirs as much as thine, the destination-port triumphant ; 

Steer then with good strong hand and wary eye, O helmsman — 
thou carriest great companions. 

Venerable, priestly Asia sails this day with thee, . 

And royal feudal Europe sails with thee. ... 

How can I pierce the impenetrable blank of the future ? 

I feel thy ominous greatness, evil as well as good ; 

I watch thee, advancing, absorbing the present, transcending the 
past; 

I see thy light lighting aijd thy Shadow shadowing, as if the entire 
globe; 

But I do not undertake to define thee — hardly to comprehend thee. 

— Walt Whitman 





PREFACfe 

There is no lack of excellent one-volume narrative histories 
of the United States, in which the political, military, diplo- 
matic, social, and economic strands have been skillfully inter- 
woven. The author has had no wish to work in that somewhat 
crowded field in writing the volume now offered. He has 
desired rather to paint a picture, with broad strokes of the 
brush, of the variegated past which has made our national 
story, and at the same time to try to discover for himself and 
others how the ordinary American, under which category 
most of us come, has become what he is to-day in outlook, 
character, and opinion. 

His own ancestors, in one line, came from Spain to settle in 
South America in 1 558 ; in another line, that of his name, from 
England to settle in Virginia in 1658. He himself was Northern 
in birth and upbringing. He has spent, in the aggregate, a fair 
number of years in residence in lands other than his own. His 
family have played their parts in the settlement and develop- 
ment of the two continents of the New World ; and he himself 
has lived enough in the Old toJ>e able to realize the differences 
which now divide the* citizens of the one from the other. 
Conscious, on the one hand, of no sectional prejudices, but 
only of being an American, on the other he has grown increas- 
ingly conscious of how different an American now is from the 
man or woman of any other nation. He has been equally 
interested in the whole colorful pageant of the great epic which 
is our history, and in trying to discover how we became what 
we have become. This book was written from these two stand- 
points. He has endeavored in p*articular to trace the beginnings 
at their several points of entry of such American concepts as 
“bigger and better,” of our attitude toward business, of many 
characteristics which are generally considered as being “typi- 



VUl 


PREFACE 


cally American,” and, in especial, of that American dream of 
a better, richer, and happier life for all our citizens of every 
rank which is the greatest contribution we have as yet made 
to the thought and welfare of the world. That dream or hope 
has been present from the start. Ever since we became an 
independent nation, each generation has seen an uprising of 
the ordinary Americans to save that dream from the forces 
which appeared to be overwhelming and dispelling it. Possibly 
the greatest of these struggles lies just ahead of us at this 
present time — not a struggle of revolutionists against estab- 
lished order, but of the ordinary man to hold fast to those 
rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” which 
were vouchsafed to us in the past in vision and on parchment. 

For permission to quote the verses through the text, the 
author’s most hearty thanks are due to Mr. Carl Sandburg and 
his publishers, Messrs. Harcourt, Brace and Company, for the 
quotations from T/ie American Songkag; tn the Cxraftnn Press 
for those from George G. Korson’s So»^s and Ballads qf the 
Anthracite Miner; to John A. Lomax, Collector and Editor 
of Cowboy Songs, and to Mr. Vachel Lind.say for the lines from 
his poem, “ The Santa Fe Trail ” — both volumes published by 
the Macmillan Company ; to the Harvard l.‘ni versify Press for 
quotations from Newman I. White’s American Xegro Folk 
Songs; to Houghton Mifflin Company for those from the works 
of Lowell and Whittier, and fer the passage from The letters 
of Sir Cecil Spring-Rice. To Harms, Incorporated, he is in- 
debted for special permission to quote the words <if “OP Man 
River.” Professor Allan Nevins, of Columbia I'niversity, Mr. 
Edward Weeks, of the Atlantic Monthly Press, and Mr. M. A- 
DeWolfe How'c have made many valuable suggestions, which 
are cordially acknowledged. 

^Ja-ties Trcseow .-\da\is 

Washingtost, D. C. 

7 p 

May 1,1931 



CONTENTS 


Preface . . . , . . . vii 

Prologue . . ... . . 3 

I FROM TIME IMMEMORIAL . • • 3 

II THE RETURN OF QUETZALCOATL . lO 

I The Men of Destiny , . . . 25 

II A Civilization Established . . . 47 

III America Secedes from the Empire . 72 

IV The Nation Finds Itself . . . 96 

V America Secedes from the Old World 120 

VI The Sun Rises in the West . . . 147 

VII The North Begins to Hustle . . 175 

VIII Manifest Destiny Lays a Golden Egg 205 

IX Brothers’ Blood . ... . 236 

X The End of the Frontier . . . 270 

XI The Flag OuTRUNSf the Constitution . 307 
XII The Age of the Dinosaurs . . . 342 

XIII America Revisits the Old World . 367 

Epilogue . ... . . . 401 

Index . . . . . . . 419 





PROLOGUE 






PROLOGUE 

I. FROM TIME IMMEMORIAL 

No date marks the beginning of our tale. With the exception 
of the Aztecs and the Mayas, no aboriginal American knew 
a calendar, and for all those who lived within the bounds of 
what is now our country, time was dateless. It simply flowed 
as it had always flowed from time immemorial, marked by the 
seasons, by birth and life and "death. How . long the Indians 
had been here or whence they came, we know no more than 
they. • 

The continent on which they dwelt, on which beyond the 
furthest reach of native myth they had forever worked and 
played, loved and warred, had remained unknown to all the 
world except themselves. Its northern limits stretched into 
the frozen death of arctic i(^. Its eastern and western shores 
were washed by limitless seas. ‘Lying like a vast triangle with 
its base at the north, its apex rested upon the base of another 
vast triangle at the south — its sister continent, whose apex in 
turn pointed to the southern pole. 

Its structure was simple as its extent was vast. Within the 



THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


4 ^ 

limits of our own land, which was in time to stretch across it in 
its more temperate zone like a colossal band, there is a com- 
paratively narrow coastal plain, flanked on the west by the 
rampart of the Appalachian range of mountains. Beyond that 
is the gigantic valley drained by the Mississippi, flanked in its 
turn by the successive ranges of the Cordilleras. Westward 
once more is the slope to the Pacific. Of the three thousand 
miles from shore to shore, more than one third is occupied by 
the great central valley, the most spacious habitation for 
human life to be found in the world. In the centuries of which 
we are writing, one million three hundred thousand sijuare 
miles of the continent — most of it, indeed, except the central 
prairies and plains, the western mountains, and the arid regions 
to the southwest — were covered by primeval forests of great 
density. A squirrel might have leaped from Iviugh to hough 
for a thousand miles and never have seen a dicker of sunshine 
on the ground, so contiguous were the bouglus and .so dense the 
leafage. 

The varied surface of the land was modeled by a giant hand. 
In the north a group of great lake.s, covering nearly a hundred 
thousand square miles, held half the fre-sh water of the entire 
world, 'fhe falls where these waters from the first foitr tum- 
bled into the last of the lakes were over a mile wide. In the 
great centra! valley of the Mississippi, drained by a river 
system four thousand miles long, one toukl travel in a straight 
line for a couple of thousand miles across rolling prairies and 
plains, from the heat of the great Gulf fo the cold of the north. 
The whole valley slowly rises from ea.st to west like a tilted 
floor until in the Far West the grounii is five thousand feet 
above the sea. It is there closed in on the west by range after 
range of one of the great mountain systems of the earth, rising 
to heights of over fourteen thousand feet and traversable by 
man at only a few points. On the western side of the water- 
shed, the Colorado River tears its way to the narrow Ciulf of 
California at the bottom of canyons of which fine is twenty 
miles wide, three hundred miles long, and averages over a 
mile in depth, forming what has been called by scientists the 



PROLOGUE 


5 


“ grandest natural geological section known.” In places on the 
Pacific slope trees grew to a height of far over two hundred 
feet, and one still standing, with a girth of ninety-three feet, 
is estimated to be four thousand years old, perhaps the oldest 
living creature in the world. 

In a country of such vast extent, the scenery and local con- 
ditions varied greatly. The Northeast of rolling hills and low 
mountains, wholly covered with forest and dotted with a thou- 
sand gem-like lakes, had nothing in common with the waterless 
cactus-spotted deserts of the Southwest ; nor had the Southeast 
of low-lying sandy pine barrens, humid swamps, and slow- 
moving mud-brown rivers with the Northwest of bright 
cascades, snow-capped mountains, and highlands reaching 
down to the blue Pacific. There was equally striking contrast 
between the wide horizons of the ocean-like plains and the end- 
less complexity of the barren and forbidding western mountains. 
The climate was also of infinite variety, from the tropical and 
moist heat of the low-lying gulf coasts to the dry air of the 
high western plateaus or the long cold of the Maine winters 
and the blizzard-swept plains of the northern central valley. 

The distances between these different sections were vast, as 
were the extents of the several sections themselves. Moreover, 
owing to the simplicity of the continental structure and the fact 
that the mountain barriers lay frpm north to south, the climate 
of almost all sections wa^one of extremes. More particularly 
up and down the Atlantic Coast and the central valley there 
was nothing to break the force of winds sweeping southward 
from the Arctic or northward from the equator. Even in most 
of the parts furthest south there could be killing frosts in 
winter, while the inhabitants of the furthest north could 
swelter with the heat of siimmer. For the most part through- 
out the continent the climate seems always to have been one 
which tended to produce a high nervous tension in the living 
beings subjected to it, even the savages, not only from its 
sudden changes, but from some quality which we do not know. 
In every way the land was one of strong contrasts rather than 
of softly graded tones, a land of dazzling light and sharp 


6 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 

shadows, of drought and overwhelming flood, of sunshine and 
appalling storm. 

Deep in its soil, all but unknown to its first inhabitants, were 
fabulous riches of coal and iron, of silver and gold, of copper 
and oil, and other things of which for the most part the savages 
neither felt the need nor knew the use. Far more important 
to them were the vast herds of buflalo which roamed the plains 
by millions; the myriads of fur-bearing animals of smaller 
size; the pigeons which at times fairly darkeneil the sky in 
flocks which extended from horizon to horizon ; the fish with 
which the lakes and rivers swarmed. Animal enemies there 
were in plenty, too, from bear and panther dtnvn to the rat- 
tlesnake and insects which made some sections practically 
uninhabitable. 

In the extreme lower end of the apex of the continental 
triangle in what we call Mexico, the varieties of scenery and 
climate were more closely squeezed together. There the tlis- 
tance was comparatively short between the dense jungle of the 
tropical seacoast and the cool air of the mountains and central 
plateau where snow-capped volcanoes reared their crests. 
Here also, in yet more concentrated form, were vast lieposits 
of precious stones and metals. Such was the gigantic setting, 
rich in all that man needs for his latest type of civilization, in 
which one of the noblest dream.s of his long and truuhled rise 
was to take form and deeply to affect the thought and life of 
the inhabitants of all the globe. 

In the prehistoric era of which sve are nt>w speaking, how- 
ever, the huge continent north of Mexico was .so sparsely 
inhabited as to have supported only about a half millitjn 
.savages or barbarians of the race we call Indians. 'I'he 
descriptive adjective “red” is a mjsnomer, for they varied 
merely from a dark skin to one of light yellow, .'\Irhnugh of 
one generic race, they were divided into a consitleniljie number 
of stocks, and again into a far greater nuftiber of tribes. Origi- 
nally there had probably been migrations on a large scale, but 
at the time our story opens, the Indian had developed a settled 
and not a nomadic habit of life. 



PROLOGUE 


7 


It would be both needless and impossible to differentiate 
carefully between the various tribes. In their numbers, their 
arts and crafts, their ways of life, they varied to some extent 
with locality, but their general characteristics will suffice us 
here. They were in the hunting and fishing stage, although 
they also raised maize and some other vegetables. The density 
of population in any one section depended mainly on the food 
supply, being greater, for example, upon the Atlantic Coast 
than on the plains. Chatty and sociable in ordinary life among 
themselves, they held to a convention of extreme gravity on all 
public and ceremonial occasions. Their nervous systems were 
unstable and they were of a markedly hysterical make-up, 
peculiarly susceptible to suggestion. Cruel and revengeful, 
they could school themselves to stand pain as a matter of social 
convention, although when unsustained by that they were 
childishly lacking in self-control. 

Their weapons were bows and arrows, tomahawks, and clubs. 
As we pass southwestward toward the Indians of New Mexico 
and Arizona we find an increase in skill in such arts as pot- 
tery and weaving, although the finest designing was on the 
northwest coast. The houses were rude, ranging from mere 
wigwams and tepees to the “long houses” of the Iroquois, until 
again we reach the Southwest, where we find the stone or adobe 
communal dwellings of the “pueblo” Indians and the “cliff 
dwellers,” which, unlike almost any other primitive dwellings, 
sometimes rose six stories and contained great numbers of 
rooms. Defense was a* primary object in such buildings as 
these, and they were often located far from the fields which 
were tilled by the community. 

The country was sparsely settled, considering its size and the 
number of inhabitants, b^t we must recall that it takes a large 
area to support a people in fhe hunting stage of culture. Al- 
though in many cases the roughly defined hunting grounds for 
each tribe were vast, they were considered none too large by 
their possessors, who sometimes traveled great distances within 
their own territories, having occasionally, as in the case of the 
Iroquois, to pass through the territory of a hostile tribe. War 



8 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


between tribes, save when treaties had been made for a period, 
was the normal state of existence, and, almost as much as 
gathering food, was the chief occupation of the men. For 
purposes of both the peaceful migrations and the war ex- 
peditions, the Indians had clearly marked trails extending 
practically over the continent, through the forests, over the 
plains, and along portages connecting their navigable streams 
and rivers, the routes chosen being scarcely capable of bet- 
terment by a modern engineer. The length of time taken to 
locate them must be reckoned by centuries when we consider 
the vastness and difficulties of the land and the fact that there 
were thousands upon thousands of miles of these frails. 

For unknown ages this life had been going on ir\ the .-Xmerican 
forests, along its coasts, on its vast plains, even in its desert 
stretches. Whether the culture was advancing or retrograding 
we cannot say, but as we go still further south, rn the apex of 
our triangle in Mexico, we reach a higher stage. Indeed we 
reach up to time and dates. 

In the southeast of Mexico and on the peninsula (»f Yucatan 
there had dwelt a mysterious people whom we call the Mayas. 
They had stone cities, had developed a merhovi of writing, 
constructed a calendar, and to some extent we can trace their 
history back to 418 a.d., perhaps even earlier, fmm their own 
records. From some cause their civilization fell, bur another, 
that of the Aztecs, further north in tlx’ higher lands of .Mexico, 
arose, based seemingly on that of the Mayas. I'nlikc the 
sparse hunting population of the Larger part of America, here 
we find a population .so numerous as to be almt-isr incredible, it 
being reported by early writers that twenty thousatni human 
sacrifices were offered in one celebration alone. 

These Indians, who had built up .so dcn.sely populated and 
highly organized an agricultural State, had probably wandered 
down from the north about tke year 1000, and come into con- 
tact with the earlier Mayas. They too had a system of writing 
and a calendar, and have left manuscripts for us to read. 
Unlike the northern tribes, they had learned how tt> smelt 
metals, and although they had no iron, the .splendor of their 



PROLOGUE 


9 


gold and jeweled ornaments and dress sounds like a tale from 
the Arabian Nights. The palace of the king was of such exten t 
that one wrote of it that, although he walked through parts of 
it several times until he was tired, he had never seen the whole 
of it^ The nobles wore solid golden cuirasses under their 
feathered robes, and the rich wore ornaments of precious stones 
set in the same metal, exquisitely chiseled. In one grave alone 
four hundred and eighty ounces of gold were buried with their 
owner, and a hoard found in one storage place was worth 
1750,000. Instead of the shell money of the northeastern 
Indians, quills filled with gold dust were used for “small 
change.” Great markets were held which twenty to twenty- 
five thousand people were said to have attended, and at which, 
besides all sorts of food, clothes, feathers, plumes, obsidian 
swords, and other things which could be found for sale, there 
was a section given up to those who sold gold by weight and all 
sorts of ornaments in the form of birds and animals made of 
gold and jewels. 

In spite of the splendor of the civilization and its high social 
and economic organization, it differed only in degree from that 
of the North, and its religion was ghastly in its cruelty. The 
especial deity of the Aztec, however, Quetzalcoatl, a bearded 
god of white skin who had given them ail their arts and crafts, 
was supposed to have been averse to human sacrifice. Long, 
long ago, so their legend went, he had gone down to the sea- 
coast, sailed to the east, and been seen no more. But he had 
promised to return and was still awaited. 


II. THE RETURN OF QUETZ-ALCO.^TL 

Centuries had passed and the “white god" had nor returned 
to make good his promise to his people. The Mexican calendar 
had cycles of years, and the same names were given to those 
which occupied the same position in the .successive cycles. 
Quetzalcoati had said that he would reappear in the year ce 
acailf but an almost countless number of those years had 
passed without him. He was still worshiped, and profes.sional 
thieves would carry his protective ima’ge when they plundered 
a house. But he did not come. At length, however, a 
generation arrived in which str.tnge things began to happen. 
In 1492, according to a calendar unknown to the Indians, three 
boats of a .size undreamed of, with great wings, were seen by 
the naked inhabitants of a little islaml in the Bahamas. 'I'hey 
hurriedly ran to the shore, and soon small boats were pur off 
from the big ones and sTtrange men with white skins landed on 
the beach, where they erected doles with gorgeous banners and 
seemed to be performing a ceremony. 

The strangers stayed for many days, and what appeared to 
interest them most were the little rings of gold which the 
natives, otherwise stark naked, wore in their noses. So, by 



THE RETURN OF QUETZALCOATL 


II 


signs, the inquisitive strangers were told that far to the south, 
overseas from the island, dwelt a people who had vast stores of 
golden utensils and ornaments. Then the white men soon 
departed, and after that several of the natives could not be 
found. But not long after, the savages in Cuba were dis- 
turbed by the apparition of these same strangers, who tarried 
and then disappeared. They were next seen from the island of 
Hayti, on which the largest ship was wrecked, but the natives 
saved ail the cargo for them out of kindness, and when the 
other two ships left, forty-four of the strangers remained 
behind. None of these island cannibals had ever heard of 
Quetzalcoatl. They were merely mystified by the white men 
and terrified by the thunder and lightning which they wielded 
from instruments in their hands; but the demands of the 
forty-four, dictated by hunger and lust, became intolerable. 
Then dark deeds happened in the jungle. 

One day a great ship reappeared and from black objects on 
her deck came a deafening roar and flashes of light, but when 
Columbus landed once more there were none of his Spaniards 
to greet him. This time he had brought strange animals called 
horses, pigs, and chickens, strange vegetables to grow, such as 
wheat and sugar cane, and it was evident he intended to 
remain. The natives decided to kill the intruders. Bloody 
war settled down on the island. In three years two thirds of 
the savages were dead* They could not fight against the 
lightning of the white men. 

From time to time this Columbus appeared at other islands, 
and in 1497 the natives of the far northeast coast of America 
were similarly surprised by the appearance of a white man who 
called himself Cabot and was in the employ of a great chief of 
a tribe known as English. With more and more frequency 
along the coasts of North and S^th America did these stran- 
gers begin to appear from nowhere across the sea. They began 
especially to conquer the islands of the Caribbean and at a few 
places to establish settlements on the mainland. After the 
failure of one of these at Darien, a Spaniard named Balboa, in 
1513, managed to climb a mountain on the isthmus from 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


11 

whence he could see the Pacific, and this sight seemed to whet 
the desire of the white men to continue their depredations. 
Six years later one called Alonso de Pineda sailed all along the 
coast from Florida to Vera Cruz, Two years after that 
another, Ponce de Leon, tried to settle a colony at Tampa Bay. 
Others made the attempt at the mouth of the Savannah River, 
and the Spaniards now began to hunt as far up as South 
Carolina for slaves to take back to their islands. But most 
of all they wanted gold. 

In 1524, Estevan Gomez, who was a Portuguese, searched 
the coast from somewhere in the north down to about the bay 
of the Chesapeake, but was discouraged by its bleakness and 
poverty. With all their exploration for over twenty years, gold 
had eluded them — that gold which, as Columbus wrote, “is 
the most precious of all commodities; [it] constitutes treasure, 
and he who posses.ses it has all he needs in tins world, as also 
the means of securing souls from purgatory, and restoring them 
to the enjoyment of Paradise.” But if it had not yet been 
found, it had always seemed at the end of the rainlmw, and in 
1517 Diego, the son and heir of Columbus, had umiertaken to 
carry exploration further into the mainland. In Yucatan the 
natives who lived in cities with paved streets and stone temples 
were surprised one day, when their altar was still drippitig with 
the blood of a sacrifice, to find the white men among them. In 
a sudden battle the Intruders i.l^ere driyen off, and after various 
adventures further along the coast they tiisappeared. 

In less than two years, however, in 1519, the unwelcome 
white men appeared again, under the ahlesr leatler they ever 
had, Hernfm Cortes. There were eleven ships this time, 
carrying five hundred and fifty Spaniards, two or three hun- 
dred Indian retainens, and sixteen horses. The first inquiry 
that the white men made w’as after eight of their countrymen 
who they had heard had been .shipwrecked ant! taken prisoner.? 
eight yeans before. Nothing could be learned of them, and 
the fleet set sail. Damage to one of the vessels required their 
return, and as they were lying at anchor one of the .sought-for 
prisoners, who had been kindly treated, paddled out in a canoe 



THE RETURN OF QUETZALCOATL 13 

and was received with joy. During his captivity he had 
learned the Mayan language and thus gave an invaluable gift 
to his rescuer. 

Further along the coast, in Tabasco, a battle took place, in 
which the white men’s victory was due to the confusion into 
which the Aztecs were thrown by the appearance of the horses, 
although the natives far outnumbered the strangers. The 
Aztecs were so won, however, by the clemency which their 
conqueror showed them that they presented him with twenty 
young women, among whom was a pretty young girl with a sad 
and romantic history. She could speak both Aztec and Mayan, 
and Cortes, whom she successively served as slave, secretary, 
and mistress, thus received another invaluable ally. His goal 
was the conquest of the Aztec kingdom, the existence of which 
had been gradually growing from rumor to reality for the 
Spaniards. 

That kingdom had recently been widely extended by con- 
quest, and at the time reached from the Atlantic to the Pacific 
and far up and down Mexico and Central America, with its 
capital at Mexico City, where dwelt the king, Montezuma. 
The very extent of the conquests and the vast number of the 
population, large sections of which were hostile to the claims 
of the king, made for weakness. Moreover, he had antag- 
onized a great part of his subjects by his pride and ostenta- 
tion, and by the heavy taxes imposed to satisfy his pomp and 
luxury. 

During the last decade, also, strange portents had been seen 
and heard in Mexico. From time to time tales had been 
received from the distant and far-separated points we have 
noted of the coming of a strange race of white men. In 1510, 
without earthquake or yther tangible cause, the large lake of 
Tezcuco had suddenly been tlisturbed, flooded the capital, and 
destroyed a considerable part of it. The next year one of the 
temples had taken fire without cause and all efforts to save it 
had been in vain. Three comets had appeared in the sky, and 
not long before Cortes landed a strange light had flared in 
pyramidal shape all over the eastern heavens. The feeling had 



THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


14 

been growing that at last Quetzalcoatl was to return, and then, 
in the year ce acafl, Cortes landed at Vera Cruz. 

He and his followers waited there a week, while all was in 
confusion in the capital, to which the news had been carried. 
Meanwhile they were treated with great courtesy and hospi- 
tality by the local governor. At the capital the question was 
hotly debated: Was Cortes Quetzalcoatl, or was he not? 
Opinions were divided, and Montezuma determined on a half- 
way course — to send an embassy with rich gifts and to forbid 
any nearer approach to his city. .■\t length the embassy 
arrived, and the Spaniards were rendered breathless by what 
was spread before their eyes. Cortes had sent a Spanish 
helmet to the king, and this was now returned filled to the 
brim with gold dust. There were thirty cartloads of cotton 
cloth, fine as silk, quantities of birds and animals cast in gold 
and silver, crests of gold and silver thread covered with pearls 
and gems, circular plates of silver and gold, one of which the 
“fair god” estimated as worth a sum equivalent to-day to 
about $11^,000. 

These gifts were accompanied by a message regretting that 
Montezuma could not comply with the stranger’s invitation for 
an interview, as the fatigues and dangers of the journey were 
too great, adding the request that the strangers should now 
retire to their own home with ^the tokens of the king's friend- 
ship. Cortes returned the obvious word that Montezuma’s 
munificence had only made him the more anxious to nu'et the 
king and that he would come to Mexico City. If the Aztecs 
had known “Quetzalcoatl ” better, they would have been able 
to predict that no other cour.se would be considered. 

It is impossible to recount again that most romantic of all 
historical tales, the conquest of Mexicojn- the .‘Spaniard, already 
incojnparably told by Prescott. The .•\ztec slave girl played 
her part, but with all the fortuitous circumstances in his favor, 
.so remarkable a.s to he thought miraculous in his day, one can- 
not withhold admiration from the great .Spaniard who with a 
handful of follower.s, divided and mutinous, conquered a large 
country with a vast and highly organized population in less 



THE RETURN OF QUETZALCOATL 


15 


than two years, and who showed himself statesman as well as 
conqueror. The riches that he found appeared inexhaustible. 
The El Dorado of the white men had been reached. An 
empire was founded. If all this had been discovered within 
a few days’ journey of the coast, what infinite treasure might 
not yet lie within the continent the vastness of which was 
beginning to be understood, though vaguely enough. 

In 1524, the savages dwelling at the mouth of the Hudson 
River probably saw one of the strange ships arrive with a 
commander named Verrazzano, an Italian in the employ of 
a people called French, and ten years later more French under 
command of Cartier appeared to the natives on the St, 
Lawrence, and for a couple of years they tried to found a 
colony there. The savages on Newfoundland now saw year 
after year innumerable boats filled with uncouth white men 
who came to take huge quantities of fish, and landed on the 
shore to dry and cure them. 

Meanwhile, having conquered Mexico, the Spaniards sent 
out many expeditions thence, and in 1533 a cruel leader called 
Pizarro went far south and conquered the native kingdom in 
Peru, which proved to be almost as rich in gold and silver and 
precious stones as Mexico itself. At the same time the natives 
of Florida were again disturbed by the appearance of white men 
near Tampa under Panfilo de JMarvaez, and fought them off, 
forcing them to travel*along the coast of the Gulf through 
forest and swamp, finally the Spaniards built boats, and 
fifteen survived to reach the shore of Texas, where they were 
captured by the natives of that coast. The Indians could not 
be sure what sort of beings they had secured, and tried the 
experiment of making one of them, Cabeza de Vaca, a medicine 
man. Thanks perhaps* to the suggestibility of the natives, 
wonderful cures were made by the white medicine men, for 
others had become such also, and for five years they had to 
serve their native owners. At length De Vaca and three 
others escaped to another tribe, where they also performed 
seemingly miraculous cures. After about eight months they 
were allowed to depart westward, but so great had their 



THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


i6 

reputation become that they were accompanied at times by 
several thousand of the savages. The procession, living on 
plunder and food which had to be breathed upon by De Yaca 
to sanctify it, wound its way across Texas to the Rio Grande, 
and finally, after ten months’ journey through the wilderness, 
De Vaca himself reached the city of I^Iesico, having touched 
the coast of the Pacific on his way. He had been gone nine 
years, and began to tell marvelous tales about having found in 
Florida the richest country in the world, so laying the founda- 
tion of a long-lived myth. The rumor was believed by Her- 
nando dc Soto, who had returned to Spain with about ;?joo,ooo 
in gold from Peru. 

in May 1539, the long-sutfering natives at 'Ibunpa, who had 
now become used to fighting otf the white men, saw nine vessels 
arrive, from which were disembarked over six hundred men 
and two hundred and twenty horses. Mucli tti the relief of 
the natives, the whites set off on a march late iii the summer and 
disappeared into the wilderness. 

During the iiext Two years the natives on the Savannah 
River, and tnhers on a long route that lay through Georgia, 
.Alabama, and Mississippi, were surprised by these strange men 
with white .skins who were accompanied by great liroves of 
hogs and huge animals ^uth long rails .such as had never been 
seen before. Everywhere the savages attacked the intruders, 
whose numbers slowly dwindled. In 154;, the natives had 
a great victory in northern Mississippi, where the whites had 
.settled into winter quarters. The savages set fire to the camp, 
killed nine men, and burned fifty horses ami several hundred 
hog.s. 

The intruders set out on the march again, and on May Jl, 
154 1, they discovered the “great river" somewhere near 
Memphis. Having cro.ssed in barges ivhich it tmtk a month to 
make, the next natives to see them were the roaming hatuis on 
the prairies, probably in Arkansas. The savages and disease 
had reduced the number of the intruders by two hundred and 
fifty, and after a winter of great severity they retreated again 
to the Mississippi, where De Soto fell til and died. Sharp-eyed 


THE RETURN OF QUETZALCOATL 17 

savages lurking on the bank to watch the movements of the 
strangers may have seen a body wrapped in cloaks weighted 
with sand dropped into the middle of the river; and rejoiced 
that the leader of their enemies, who had told them that all 
white men were immortal, was dead. 

The remainder of the intruding band now started southwest- 
ward for Mexico, but provisions were scarce and the savages 
were menacing all along the way. They were successful in 
turning the strangers back again to the river, where they built 
seven small ships and, after liberating over five hundred Indian 
slaves whom they had taken, disappeared from view down- 
stream. Before they did so it had been noticed that the power 
to control the thunder and lightning from the death-dealing 
weapons they had held in their hands had left them. Four 
years and a quarter from the time they had started, exactly 
one half of their number reached Mexico again. 

Meanwhile the Indians of the plains and the Southwest had 
been busy trying to repel other intruders. Tales had been told 
of the “Seven Cities of Cibola” of surpassing size and wealth 
in the land of the pueblos, and presently the natives of south- 
western Arizona were disturbed by the invading bands of a 
great expedition under Coronado, numbering three hundred 
white men and eight hundred Mexican Indians. These found 
the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon, but none of the 
Seven Cities; constantly attacked by the natives, they worked 
their way as far north as Kansas, where at one time, unwit- 
tingly, they were onlj^ nine days from De Soto’s force. The 
natives had to deal with this new menace for a little over a year 
until the expedition returned to Mexico. The next year, how- 
ever, 1543, the natives all along the coast of California, nearly to 
Oregon, saw the strangers sailing along in ships under command 
of Cabrillo, occasionaliy*having to fight them when they landed. 

We cannot recount all the places at which the white men 
now began to be encountered by the natives with increasing 
frequency and foreboding. The strangers were showing more 
determination to settle along the Atlantic Coast, and the 
Indians, with occasional fighting, watched abortive efforts of 



THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


i8 

the Spanish to settle at several spots as far north as North 
Carolina, until in 1565 they finally did effect a permanent 
settlement at St. Augustine in Florida, near where the French 
had also tried twice to settle. In the course of the second 
French effort it must have afforded the natives some hope to 
see the wEite men turn to killing each other when the Spanish 
who founded St. Augustine slaughtered the French colonists at 
the mouth of the St. Johns River, h'ive year.s later the 
Spanish had secured a temporary htdd on the coast as far 
north as Chesapeake Ray, and in built a fort at Sr. 

Augustine with the help of negro .slaves importctl from Spain. 

In 1584, the savages oh the North Carolina coast were busy 
watching the English try to establish set rlemcnf.s in their land, 
and were well content to see them all sail off again two years 
later. Only a couple of d:iy.s afterward, however, more .ship.s 
arrived, ami fifteen men remained when these sailed away. 
This time the Indians fell upon them, killed one, and drove the 
re.sf to sea in a small boar. The .savages had again eleared 
their land, for these white men were never more heard of by 
them or anyone. The next year, 158”, more fU’ the persistent 
English came, a hundred and fifty of them, *!f whom twenty- 
five were women and children, the like of whmn had tu’vcr been 
seen in North .•\nu‘rica before. Sexm there was a white girl 
baby born wlm was called Virginia Dare, and not hnig after- 
ward the ship.s set sail and left the enlony to fend for itself. 
What course the .savagc.s took with these colonists wc lifi nor 
know, but four year.s later, when .ship.s again arrived, nor a trace 
was to be fouitd save an empty fort, on the wall of which was 
scrawled the word “Croatan." 

The F.ngli.sh had now for the first time appeared to the 
savages on the we.st coast also; in 1579 a ship called the 
Gofde/i Hind, commanded by one Francis Drake and loaded 
with gold and silver plundered from the .Spaniard.s, .slowly made 
her way up the California coast to Oregon, stopping for some 
time in the bay of San Francisco, where the .savage.s watched 
a ceremony intended to transfer their entire land from them- 
selves to some stranger named Elizabeth. 



THE RETURN OF QUETZALCOATL 


19 


During three generations the Indians north of Mexico had 
had more than enough of this ‘strange new enemy who was 
likely to descend on them at any moment, but their life had not 
been greatly altered by the skirmishings that had taken place. 
In Mexico the case was very different. 

The Spaniards had come seeking gold. They had not only 
found it, but they had also found a highly organized society of 
barbaric splendor. If the white men robbed the Indians of 
their independence and wealth, they also felt that they had 
a gift of priceless value to bestow in return — the gift of the 
Christian religion, as they understood it, and of eternal sal- 
vation. With all their cruelty, it never occurred to the 
Spaniards but that the Indian was a human soul to be saved, 
as well as exploited. In the new empire that Cortes built up, 
the Indian might be socially and economically subordinate, 
but he had his rights as an integral part of the common society, 
and Spanish civilization as transplanted to Mexico was a 
civilization in which the Indian was included and in which 
he survived, mixing his blood in marriage with the whites. 
That fact was of prime importance for the savage and the white 
man both. 

Within a century from the time the first Spaniard arrived, 
the change from the Indian point of view had been immense. 
He had been taught the Catholic faith, and if it was not very 
well understood, perhaps, by either race, nevertheless the 
bloody sacrifice of life of the old religion had become a thing of 
the past. No longer wWe vast numbers of victims slain at one 
ceremony to appease an angry god. A new civilization had 
arisen with startling rapidity, a civilization in which the Indian 
was expected to take a part, albeit it was to a great extent an 
exploited and unhappy qne. 

By 1574 there were about two hundred Spanish cities and 
towns in America with a population of a hundred and sixty 
thousand Spaniards, mostly men. Schools for the Indians 
were spread broadcast in the Indian villages, and as early as 
1 522 one attended by over a thousand Indian boys was estab- 
lished in Mexico City, where the pupils were taught handicrafts 



ao 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


and the fine arts as weil as the usual branches of learning. Thir- 
teen years later the first institution for higher learning in the 
New World was established especially for natives in the same 
city, where there was also a college for Indian girls. In 1551 
the University of Mexico was founded, one of the chairs being 
that of the Indian ianguage.s, and among the important books 
published on iMexican printing presses, of which there were 
seven or eight in this century, were grammars and liictionaries 
of the Mexican tongue. 

The civilization which was opened to the Indians, and in 
which in nrany cases they rose to kical offices, at least, of 
importance, was an amazing one to he projected in so short 
a time. There were over fifty honksellers in Mexico in this 
first century, in the last quarter of which over thirty thousand 
books were imported fomn Spain. Others of great anti lasting 
importance on anthropology, linguistics, ami history were 
written in Mexiett itself by its own .scholars. A large number 
of works, mostly religious, were printed in the native languages. 
In t57j, the foundation was laid for the fatluxlrai of Mexico, 
the greate.sf among the innumerable churches which hail been 
built throughout the country, and which yet remaitts the largest 
and grande.st church building in North Atnerica. In the.se 
buildings the Indian often saw examples of F.untpcan painting 
in the pictures hung twer the altars, and in this century a 
Mexican school of art led hy Alonso Vasques and Rodrigo tie 
Cifuentes had already spnmg inttJ life. .Inother iiitiication 
of the vigor of the interest in the arts is to be f(»und in the fact 
that in 1585 twer three hundred aspiring authors contested for 
a prize in literature. 

'I'he Spaniards hati also done much to increase the resource.s 
of the country. They shippetl in so many cattle ami horses ami 
jennies for brectiing mules that within a few generations these 
were running wild ail over the Country and were hunted instead 
of being bred. Cotton and sugar were planted, ami hy 1590 
the sugar mills were exporting two hundred thousand pounds 
a year from Santo Domingo alone, where the Indians had 
learned to eat beef instead of human flesh, and to work at 


THE RETURN OF QUETZALCOATL 21 

agriculture instead of hunting and war. Flowers of all sorts 
were introduced, and in 1552 Mass was said at one of the 
churches over the seeds of roses on the altar, which were soon 
to make all New Spain rich in fragrant blossoms. 

But gold and silver were still the compelling lure. Annually 
the great fleet carried about fifteen million dollars in gold and 
treasure to Spain. Thousands of unhappy Indians toiled in 
the mines of Potosi and others almost as rich. But north of the 
Mexican border life was going on unchanged, as it had from the 
beginning, except for occasional appearances of white men to be 
humored or killed. The only change was that cattle and 
horses, which the Spaniards had brought and which were now 
roaming Mexico by the hundred thousand, were found, as they 
strayed, by northern natives, and the wild Sioux and other 
plains Indians now swept on horseback over the ground on 
which they and their ancestors had painfully trudged for 
countless ages. 

Meanwhile, unknown to the savages, the English and the 
Spaniards whom they had so often repulsed from their shores 
had met in fierce fight in more ships than the Indian had ever 
dreamed of, on a narrow strait three thousand miles away. 
By the night of the twentieth of July, 1588, the Spanish 
Armada was in full flight in the English Channel. The fate 
of the unwitting North American savage had been sealed. 





THE EPIC OF AMERICA 





THE MEN OF DESTINY 

Whence and why had come these white men who had already 
so profoundly altered life for the North American savage? 
Three thousand miles across the sea was the continent of 
Europe, filled with energetic, restless peoples. They had often 
fought among themselves for political and economic advan- 
tages. They were of vssrious religious beliefs. The fifteenth 
and sixteenth centuries had witnessed a marked increase of 
energy among them, the tempo of their lives having suffered 
an inexplicable but very noticeable rise. The forces of trade, 
religion, and nationalism were the dominant ones, and the 
conflicts were increasing in intensity. 

Just about the time that the increase in energy became no- 
table, one outlet for that energy was blocked by the Turks’ 
obtaining control of all the overland routes to the marvelously 
profitable trade with the Orient. That, combined with the 
need in any case for new outlets for the increased energy, 
inaugurated an era of exploration by sea to find new openings 
for trade and especially a new way to the closed Orient. For 



26 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


twenty years before Columbus was seen by the savages in the 
Caribbean, Portuguese sailors had been coasting down the 
African shore. If all this was unknown to the American In- 
dian, equally were he and the very existence of his continent 
unknown to the European. When Columbus conceived the 
idea of reaching the B'ar East, “the Indies,” by sailing west, 
the prevailing winds carried him by chance, not indecii to that 
Orient which he always believed he had found, but to the front 
door of the very section of North America which held the one 
rich civilization of its inhabitants. With a minimum of balked 
effort, Spain, in w'hnse employ he had .sailed, thus ohruined a 
source of Hbulous wealth, and hence of power, which com- 
pletely upset the balance among European nations. 

In no country of Europe, however, was the increase of energy 
more marked than in the England of Queen Elizabeth. More- 
over, England had become passionately Protestant in religion 
and hated the Catholic Spaniard with a glowing hate. To see 
him rise to the very pinnacle of power, to watch his galleons 
bring their millions in gold with every fleet from tlie new land 
in the West, to have the Catholics lord it over the world, was 
more than the bounding new energy of the F.nglish could 
brook. In 1584, Richard Hakluyt was writing to plead that if 
the English colonized and fortified .some point.s in .-Xmerica and 
preyed on the Spanish plate fleets, “ no douhte hut the Spanishe 
empire falls to the ground and the Spani.sh king .shall Ise left 
as bare as .Xesops prniuie crowe . . - with such a inayim* m the 
Pope and to that side” a.s had never been giveti I>vfore by atiy- 
one, for “if you touche him in the Indies, you trnich the apple 
of his eye,” and the Spaniard’s armie.s and pride would fall with 
his wealth. 

The Engli.sh sea dogs — Hawkins,, Drake, and the rest — 
were in full cry after the hated ai'd gold-laden Papists by sea. 
Enormous plunder wa-s captured, and the .Spaniard, touched in 
“the apple of his eye,” turned snarlingly to give the English a 
fatal blow by overwhelming them in their own Channel. But 
the English won the day, and a wild strtrni completed the total 
destruction of the Spanish fleet. I'he defeat of the .Xrmada, 



THE MEN OF DESTINY 


27 


with the subsequent decline in the power of Spain, meant that 
that nation’s American empire would be practically limited on 
the north by the Mexican border and would never spread into 
the wide expanse of the continent claimed beyond. That was 
too vast, and the frontier line too extended, to be held by a 
declining nation. The way was open for the boldest plans 
of the English. Of the Spanish empire in America as it was, 
and the type of civilization so brilliantly planted there, the 
English knew and cared nothing, nor did their American sons 
for the next three centuries. Competition, ignorance, dislike, 
and religious fanaticism all combined to make Spain and her 
empire in their eyes merely an enemy and a prey. To have 
conquered New Spain from Old would have been too great a 
task for even the rising England of Elizabeth, and efforts at 
colonization were thus all diverted to the North, where it was 
hoped gold and vast riches might also be found. 

Gilbert and Raleigh had tried in vain to found their colonies, 
but, if 'success had not come, their courage had not been 
damped. Of America, which had been his undoing, Raleigh 
said when near death, “I shall yet see it an English nation,” 
and Gilbert’s remark after his own failure was equally indica- 
tive of the spirit now abroad : “He is not worthy to live at all 
that for fear of danger or death, shunneth his countries service 
and his own honor.” More powerful companies were formed 
to finance the planting o? colonies, and the work went doggedly 
forward. » 

In 1607, a renewed attempt was made to plant a colony at 
Jamestown, Virginia — thirty miles up the river to avoid sur- 
prise by the Spaniards. This time it was successful, in spite of 
the horrors of “ the starving time,” in which one husband was 
reported to have killed his wife, eaten part of her, and salted 
down the remainder. By the end of the first dozen years the 
settlement numbered about a fhousand. How precarious it 
was, nevertheless, is indicated by the fact that although be- 
tween 1619 and 162a about three thousand new settlers arrived, 
by the end of the latter year there were left only about twelve 
hundred in all, old and new, and of these about four hundred 



2,8 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


were sooa to be massacred by the Indians. Sickness and hard- 
ship took a frightful toll, but the struggling colony managed to 
survive. The English stock had been grafted on the .-Ikmerican 
continent. Self-government had, also, for the governor, 
Yeardley, who arrived in the spring of 1619, was instructed not 
only to replace martial law with civil government, and to make 
grants of land to all free immigrants, but also to summon an 
assembly in which the elected representatives of the people 
should make such law’s as might "by them be thought good 
and profitable." A new nation had been founded, though the 
fever-infested, squalid colony seemed to hold little promise of 
greatness. Little indeed ; for Spain, which wouhi have quickly 
wiped it out, left it alone because the Spanish .-Imbassador in 
London advised paying no attention to it, as it would surely die 
by itself. 

Far to the north, in Maine, another company had tried to 
establish a colony, which /sad died by itself. But in 1620 the 
little band of English “Pilgrims,” who for their religion’s sake 
had been living self-exiled in Holland for some years, arrived 
by the Afaji^oarr, settled themselves on the inhospitable shore 
of Plymouth, and with rugged devotion grafted another bud of 
the English nation on the continent. I'hey were a simple and 
gentle folk, but their courage was no less an<i of a finer quality 
than that of the most -swashbuckling of the “sea A 

couple of years after the founding of their setflemcnr, William 
Bradford, leader and historian of the ctiJnny, answeritig a list of 
objections which had been brought in i'.ngland against the 
colony, noted that the settlers were .said to be much annoyed 
with masquitoc.s. “They are too delicate and unfitted to begin 
new plantations,” he answered, “that cannist endure the biting 
of a muskecto; we would wish such 'to keepe at home, till at 
least they are muskeeto proof." 

One had indeed to be much more than “rmtskeeto {’•roof," as 
Bradford ironically wrote, to be an American pioneer. .Sick- 
ness, incessant and unremitting labor, hunger, attacks from 
savage men and savage beasts, were among the “mosquito 
bites” that these first founders, north and south, had to face 



THE MEN OF DESTINY 


29 


and endure. In the first winter at Plymouth, half the little 
company of a hundred died from sickness and hardship. At 
times there were but six or seven strong enough to hunt, cook, 
and care for the entire company, who, nevertheless, “to their 
great commendations,” as Bradford wrote, “spared no pains, 
night nor day, but with abundance of toyle and hazard of their 
own health, fetched them wood, made their fires, drest them 
meat, made their beds, washed their loathsome clothes, cloathed 
and uncloathed them . . . all this willingly and cherfully, 
without any grudging in the least, shewing therein their true 
love unto their friends & brethren.” 

Here and there more came. Some settled around the 
shore of Massachusetts Bay. A little fishing settlement was 
founded at Cape Ann. The Virginians had been granted the 
right to make their own local laws by the King himself, but 
these northern settlers had come without charter or written 
right. The novel situation of being free from all laws whatever 
faced the Pilgrims even before they landed from the Mayflower, 
and there were some unruly members in the mixed company. 
There was no one set over them to govern them. Some govern- 
ment was needful. It was clear that they must therefore 
govern themselves; and, impelled by the simple logic of their 
situation, they drew up a compact which all signed, agreeing 
that they would “submit to such government and governors 
as [they] should by common consent agree to make and choose.” 
Simple as were both the logic and the document, the decision 
was peculiarly English, and in time to come was to be char- 
acteristically American also. Those who signed had no 
intention of creating a “democracy” or of changing any 
government in the world. They simply avoided the possible 
dangers of anarchy or asi iron dictator by agreeing to abide 
by the expressed common will. Simple as it was, no group of 
men other than English at that ‘period would have chosen the 
same solution ; and it was the solution that was to occur over 
and over again in a thousand situations in the later history of 
the country. 

By 1628 it had been made certain that English colonization 



30 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


of the Atlantic Coast, although toilsome and hazardous, could 
be undertaken with success. The Virginia colony was by then 
twenty-one years old. It had had to stand on its own feet 
after the royal dissolution of the company which had backed it, 
and yet the colonists had felt themselves strong enough to 
insist upon the reestablishment of the Assembly when the 
King threatened it, and they had won. The Pilgrims had 
always stood on their own feet, and in spite of much hardship 
and little profit had also won through. Owing to these exam- 
ples, as well as to conditions in England, a great movement of 
population toward America, a migration such as ifi its entirety 
the world has never seen elsewhere, was now a!«nir to set in. 
By 3630 there were almost .seven thousand F.ngtisli settlers 
on the .Anerican coast and about four thousand iti Bermuda 
and the West Indies. Soon after 1640 flu* total was rti he 
increased by about sixty-five thousand, of whom about two 
thirds were on the islands and one third on the mainl.ind. 

For various reasons, econonfic conditions in Engianvl were, 
very bad, both gentlemen and poorer people tif many sorts 
finding themselves hard pressed either to keep up their accus- 
tomed scale of living or to make any living at all. 'fhe oppor- 
tunitie.s of the Xcw World were painted in glowing colors, and 
those who were sinking in the social and economic scales in 
England began to look rowan! k as a land of refuge anti of hope. 
Not only, however, ,were economic cofuiifinns hail, but sf'» 
also, for great numbens, were the political and religious out- 
looks. Politically, the tyranny of the Stuarts luui bcgiin, atui, 
religiously, the promise of greater persecuritui of the Puritans 
filled many with dark forebodings, for a consitlcrahle part of 
the nation had become Puritan. On acctnint of all these 
causes, — poverty, fear of religious' persecution, political 
dangers, and the general he>pc of bettering themselves, — a 
veritable exodus of English men and women tiM>k place to 
Ireland, which was then also being colonized, to the .■\tluntic 
Coast of .America, and to the West India islands. Our cus- 
tomary preoccupation solely with continenral "American” 
history usually makes us overlook the fact that, of the j».ssibly 



31 


THE MEN OF DESTINY 

seventy-five thousand persons who left the old home, only about 
one third came to our America. It was a vast emigration of 
which only this fraction impinged on our own shores. 

The American dream was beginning to take form in the 
hearts of men. The economic motive was unquestionably 
powerful, often dominant, in the minds of those who took part 
in the great migration, but mixed with this was also frequently 
present the hope of a better and a freer life, a life in which a man 
might think as he would and develop as he willed. The migra- 
tion was not like so many earlier ones in history, led by warrior 
lords with followers dependent on them, but was one in which 
the common man as well as the leader was hoping for greater 
freedom and happiness for himself and his children. English- 
like, it was for particular liberties for themselves and not a 
vague “liberty” in itself that they crossed the sea. The dream 
was as yet largely inchoate and unexpressed, but it was forming. 

In 1628 the Company of Massachusetts Bay, in which many 
Puritan peers and gentlemen were interested as promoters, 
received a patent from the Crown, and a charter the following 
year. After an advance party had settled on Massachusetts 
Bay under the lead of John Endicott, a larger party, numbering 
about a thousand, came out in 1630 under the lead of John 
Winthrop, with all the needed cattle, tools, and supplies for 
settlement on a large scale. The first winter, as usual in all 
such ventures, was one "of great hardship and suffering, but 
colonizing was now better understood, and the days of failure 
were past. Within a decade there were to be about fifteen 
hundred settlers well-rooted in Maine and New Hampshire, 
fourteen thousand in Massachusetts, three hundred in Rhode 
Island, two thousand in Connecticut fifteen hundred in 
Maryland, and eight thousand in Virginia. The whole coast 
from Maine to Carolina, east of the Appalachians, was by then 
firmly in the possession of the English, with the exception of 
the claims of a small body of Dutch who had founded New 
York, and of some Swedes who had established themselves in 
Delaware. Before the beginning of the eighteenth century 
these had been swallowed up by conquest or the irresistible 



32 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


tide of increasing English population, and the colonies of 
Pennsylvania, the Jerseys, and the Caroiinas had also been 
strongly settled. Many religious sects were now represented, 
for not only were there the Puritans in Xew England and the 
Church of England men in Virginia and the South, but Mary- 
land had been settled as a refuge for Roman Catholics and 
Pennsylvania for the Quakers. 

Internationally, the competition for empire was far from hav- 
ing been determined. France was powerful and ambitious, and 
was fired by missionary zeal for spireading Christianity among 
the natives, in exchange for furs. In iboS, she founded the 
fortified post of Quebec, and from thence for decades mi.ssion- 
aries, fur traders, and intrepid explorers pushed their way into 
the wilderness to the west and southwest. With tlie .successive 
discovery of the Great Lakes and the exploration of tlie entire 
length of the Mississipipi by La Salle in i6S;, she laid claim to 
the two great waterways of the continent and the whole of 
the great central valley. By the end of the fir.-jr cetifury she 
had a fort at Niagara and had settled Saulr Sainte Marie 
(fourteen years before Philadelphia), Detroit, Ka.ska.skia, 
Vincennes, Duluth, and other places in the Mid-West. 

There were missions of the indefatigable Jesuits at matiy 
points, and the intoning of the Mas.s wa.s heard by savage 
auditors here and there along the whf)]e nefwt.»rk of waterways 
and Indian trails, where the ETench 'followed the mutes laid 
down centuries before by the natives, i’rench and Indians 
fraternized and understood one another. "When the I'rench- 
men arrived at the.se falls," said a Chippewa chief in iSib, 
lamenting the change to .American conditions, "they came anil 
kissed us. They called u.s children and we found them fathers. 
We lived like brethren in the same lodge, and vc hud always 
wherewithal to clothe u.s. 'Ehey never mocked at our cere- 
monies, and they never molested the places of our dead. 
Seven generations of men have passed away, and we have not 
forgotten it. Just, very just, were they towards us." One 
exception there was — the fierce iroquni.s of western New ^’ork 
and Ohio, who always preferred the English, and who from 


THE MEN OF DESTINY 33 

their hostility to the French deflected the stream of French 
exploration and trading to the north of their territory. 

Meanwhile the Spaniards were not idle. In 1608 they 
founded Santa Fe in New Mexico, which is thus twelve years 
older than Plymouth, and by the year of Winthrop’s landing 
they had twenty-five missions in their new State serving ninety 
pueblos, with, as they claimed, a thousand Indian Christians 
in each. The story of our New Mexico for a couple of gener- 
ations was that of highly colored and picturesque conflicts 
between the civil (usually very uncivil) governors and the 
friars — the former, as slave raiders, being as bent on capturing 
the bodies of the savages as the latter were upon saving their 
souls. 

To offset threatened entry by the French, missions were also 
established in Texas, where San Antonio was founded in 1718. 
The need for establishing settlements in California had also 
been felt, as English freebooters preyed on Spanish ships off 
the coast, and in 1697 the whole project of Californian settle- 
ment was placed in the sole hands of the Spanish Jesuits, who 
established several missions in the South. 

The contrast between the three nations now laying claim to 
large stretches of the continent was a fascinating one. The 
imagination of the French had soared to dizzy heights when 
they saw their empire embracing the vast valleys of the St. 
Lawrence and the Missislippi, whose waters had been explored 
by gay-hearted trader^ or black-robed priests. Agriculture 
and the plodding ways of backwoods settlers made little 
appeal to these men who thought in terms of the ICingdom of 
Heaven and an earthly empire of nearly as great an extent. 
New France, with a population numbered only in thousands, 
always remained to some extent dependent on importations 
of food, whereas the SpajU-iarSs in the South supported a popu- 
lation of over five millions ort domestic agriculture. The 
French settlers remained for the most part humbly poor and 
absurdly few in numbers, considering the empire to which they 
laid claim, and could scarcely be said to have established more 
than an outpost of civilization in a wilderness. The Spaniards 


34 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


were numerous, some of them incredibly wealthy, and the 
civilization they established was to be that of more than the 
entire southern continent. The French, by love of adventure 
and the character of their basic industry, the fur trade, were 
lured ever deeper into the forests, while the Spaniards were 
busy consolidating a densely populated mining and farming 
country, with great cattle ranges and ranches. Neither had 
any race prejudice against the native population, but whereas 
the French had chiefly amours with the Indian women, and, 
owing to small numbers, left but little genuine impress upon 
the native culture, the Spaniards built up a new nation of 
mixed bloods and transformed a very large part of the great 
native population from barbarism to civilization. The French 
dreamed an imperial dream; the Spaniards built an empire. 

When we turn from the French Jesuit and guy vnyageur and 
explorer, paddling their almost solitary way through thousands 
of miles of forest streams where white men never hud been seen 
before, or from the Spaniard of great agricultural estates or 
mines and ranches, to the plodding English in their settlements 
huddled along the Atlantic Coast, we seem to leave romance for 
drab reality. It is true that the English also had, to a con- 
siderable extent, been lured by dreams of wealth and power, 
for the myth of the Seven Cities or other great sources of gold 
and jewels somewhere in the 9*ntre of the continent was long 
to persist. But after a few fruitless' explorations the Anglo- 
Saxon adventurers turned to fish and t9bacco and steady hard 
work to wring their living from sea or soil. In the North they 
built compact little villages, in the South they .scattered more 
widely on solitary plantations, but all were within reach of 
seacoast or short stream. At the farthe,st to the westward, 
they were but three hundred miles, and usually less, from the 
great barrier of the Appalachians''which hemmed in their land 
in that direction, and through which only one river, the Hud- 
son-Mohawk, found its way and gave easy passage. Empire 
builders though they were, they seemed to think and move in 
inches, tilling their farms or plantations in serried ranks as 
they advanced. No mines of Potosi, disappointingly but for- 


THE MEN OF DESTINY 


35 


tunately, turned their minds from the steady work of daily 
toil, nor did it occur to them to go on wild expeditions merely 
to trace the course of rivers a thousand miles from where their 
shops needed tending or their fields tilling. 

Nor, again, although a goodly number of them, especially 
in New England, had come into the wilderness in order to wor- 
ship God in the only way in which they believed He should be 
worshiped, were they fired with any missionary zeal. There 
was some talk now and then of the glory of converting the 
heathen, but for the most part little or nothing was ever done 
toward that end. The Reverend John Eliot, in Massachusetts, 
did attempt it, and translated the Bible into the Algonquian 
tongue, but he was almost the only person who ventured to 
think of the Indian as a soul to be saved rather than a child of 
the devil to be fought when need be — “ devilish men who serve 
nobody but the devil,” as Dominie Michaelius called them. 

Race consciousness and a sense of superiority were strong in 
the settlers, and in their minds it was the hand of God that slew 
Indians for them. Speaking of the disease which had deci- 
mated the savages around Plymouth before the Pilgrims landed, 
a Puritan characteristically noted that “by this means Christ 
made room for his people to plant.” Unlike the French and 
Spaniards, the English were strengthened in their race con- 
sciousness by contact with both Indians and the later negro 
slaves, and although there was sdme illicit miscegenation, there 
was never any social countenance given to racial admixture. 
In marked contrast to' the Latin colonies, English wives and 
children shared the perilous adventure of their husbands and 
fathers. 

Many a war, however, was fought with the savages, two of the 
most notable being the Pequot and King Philip’s wars in New 
England. Everywhere, "texc^t in Pennsylvania, where for a 
while the Quakers maintained friendly relations and fair 
dealings with the natives, the settlers were in constant danger 
from attack, and at any moment the dreaded war whoop might 
resound, and fire and ravage follow. The original inhabitants, 
who had first seen the white men arrive in small scattered 


36 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


bands, now began to find themselves overwhelmed and driven 
back step by step from their accustomed hunting and camping 
grounds, their springs and fishing places, their streams and old 
wigwam sites. As they began drearily to surmise, the pressure 
from the unknown lands across the sea was to become incessant 
and relentless. 

Although there was a goodly sprinkling of mere adventurers 
and ne’er-do-weels, the larger part of the English came with the 
purpose of establishing homes where they could better their 
condition either from the point of view of religious conditions 
or, more frequently, merely in the social and economic scale. 
Even in the New England migration, which was more motivated 
by religion than any of the other continental ones, such a leader 
as Winthrop, one of the richest to come, listed among his reasons 
for the move the facts that his estate had so greatly diminished 
as to preclude his living longer in his accustomed style at home ; 
that he had lost his office; and that the prospects in England 
were such as to indicate that he would not in the future have 
there the scope he wished for the exercise of his talents and 
ambition. Throughout all the colonies there was a strong 
Puritan tinge, however, to thought, morals, and the codes of 
local laws. Puritanism in its widest sense, as a movement of 
moral reform and purification, was in the air, and received wide- 
spread acceptance among the classes who came to America and 
became the leaders there. Many of^the “blue laws” of New 
England had their counterparts in Anglican Virginia and 
other colonies. 

If the dreams of the early imperialists had been to create an 
empire, to singe the beard of the king of .Spain and to make a 
shrewd thrust at the Pope, the hope that now dwelt in the 
breasts of the individual emigrants of all classes was m escape 
from conditions overseas and to prosper in a new land. They 
came from prisons, from hovejs, from little farm cottages, from 
town shops, from country manor houses and rectories, but 
never from palaces. The aristocracy remained in England, 
and, with scarcely an exception, the thousands who came were 
from the middle and lower classes, Seeing from persecution or 


THE MEN OF DESTINY 


37 


hard social and economic conditions. These men and women 
of the first few generations were not frontiersmen, and had no 
qualities in common with those who later were so important 
and formative an element in American life. These earliest 
Americans were laborers, tradesmen, artisans, and such, with 
a slight sprinkling of moderately well-to-do and educated 
gentlemen. They were lured in large part by the prospect of 
owning land, but the land that lured them was that nearest at 
hand and not in the distant wilderness. They came to make 
homes. 

All at first was wilderness, however, and had to be subdued. 
In that process the man with money found himself brought far 
nearer the level of the laborer than he had ever dreamed of 
being in England. At the beginning of most settlements it 
was “root, hog, or die” for all. It was an omen of deep 
influence in American life that, when the Winthrop party 
arrived, food was so scarce that a hundred and eighty indented 
servants had to be given their liberty, at a cost of nearly £400, 
because their masters could not feed them. Even when 
Germantown was established, Pastorius wrote of the Germans 
arriving in the settlement that all “have to fall to work and 
swing the axe most vigorously, for wherever you turn the cry is, 
Itur in antiquam sylvam, nothing but endless forests.” 

This insistence on work is heard all through the period, from 
every colony. Among the first laws in Virginia it was enacted 
that if any man be foupd an idler, even though a freeman, he 
should be assigned to someone by a magistrate and made to work 
for wages “till he shewe apparant signes of amendment.” A 
describer of Maryland in 1666 says that “the Son works as well 
as the Servant, so that before they eat their bread they are 
commonly taught how to, earn it.” Even little children under 
twelve worked in the fields, JuSt as those of our latest immigrants 
the “Polacks”and others do. The settlers had come from a 
land with a strongly stratified social scale. They were not 
engaged in building a Utopia. Their hope was for a civiliza- 
tion which should be, as soon as might be, like that they had 
known, but in which they would each be freer, richer, and more 


38 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


mdependent. As the settlements were founded, class dis- 
tinctions remained, but the unending need for work uncon- 
sciously al tered the atti tude toward labor for gain . 

Moreover, as the decades passed, the scarcity of men who 
would work for wages tended to raise the relative position of 
the worker. With free land easily obtainable there was little 
or no reason why a hard-working ambitious man should have 
to work for another instead of for himself. He could apply for 
his own bit of land, either freehold in the North or subject to a 
small and often uncollected quitrent in the South, clear it of 
trees, build a house with the help of neighbors, and become 
lord of his own life. There was plenty of land near coast and 
stream everywhere. On the other hand, there was a tremen- 
dous demand for hired labor, on farms, in shops, in the fisheries, 
and in every sort of occupation in which incipient capitalists 
were anxious to increase the scale of their operations beyond 
that possible merely by their own persona! exertions. Win- 
throp's note in 1633 that “ the scarcity of workmen hail caused 
them to raise their wages to an excessive rate ” was merely a 
premonitory symptom of what was to become a fundamental 
tendency of vast importance in American life. .Although there 
was occasional grumbling from discontented settlers of the 
laboring class, we have not a few letters of this period which 
indicate how great were the possibilities for them in the new 
country as contrasted with England^ “Wages here are three 
times as high as there,” wrote one. Another wrote that for 
working people it was much better living here than at home, 
adding, “I live a simple life and hath builded a shop, and doth 
follow the weaving of linen cloth, but 1 have bought 450 acres 
of land in the woods.” 

It was this “land in the woods” as a i>ossibility for almost 
every inhabitant of America thar was to prove one of the most 
powerful of the forces whichr worked toward a democracy of 
feeling and outlook, toward the shaping of our American dream. 
The English mind is essentially a practical and pragmatic one. 
On the one hand, English rulers never laid down vast and 
Ic^cai (and unworkable) schemes for colonial administration 



THE MEN OF DESTINY 


39 


as did the French and Spanish. On the other, also, the 
citizenry never attempted to make all things new at a stroke 
of the pen, as the French did in their Revolution. None of the 
leading men of the English colonists who came over to settle 
expected or wished for any democratizing of either social or 
political life. Most of them, like the Reverend John Cotton 
and John Winthrop, feared and detested democracy. The 
latter, indeed, cursed it as the “meanest and worst of aU forms 
of government.” 

But the fact was that in these small new communities, weeks 
or months from England, local government could function and 
anarchy be averted only by the consent of the governed, as the 
signers of the “Mayflower Covenant” had perceived, not as a 
theory but as a practical exigency. In these small coast vil- 
lages or groups of plantations, the gentleman and moneyed man 
might still have various social privileges, but where there were 
few luxuries to be bought with money, where service was hard 
to hire, where almost everyone owned his own house and bit 
of land, where there was as yet little distinction between the 
houses of rich and poor, where work was a heavy leveler, where 
almost all had a stake in the community, it was impossible that 
the ordinary man should not assert himself and become a 
power. 

To a great extent “government” was of a parochial sort, and 
the questions that had to be decided were such as came home 
directly to every householder and which he felt as competent 
to discuss as the “gentlemen.” Government was largely con- 
cerned with such matters as allotting lands to settlers, laying 
out highways and working on them, raising money for the 
support of the town or parish church, arranging for sentry duty, 
or organizing a small fo^ce against the Indians. The French 
and Spanish settlers were ifot self-assertive. They accepted 
the vagaries of aristocratic or imperial overseas government as 
they did those of hurricane or drought, but the English in their 
own homeland had developed a different sort of reaction toward 
life. When an Englishman had taken all the risks of a crossing 
to the colonies and had gone through the trials and labors of 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


40 

the first years of clearing his land and establishing his little 
home, it was not in his nature to sit by and allow his daily life 
to be governed by a few neighbors who, in the wilderness, had 
lost a good deal of the authority and advantages of mere money 
or social position which had set them apart in England, and who 
had come a long way toward his own status of a simple human 
being struggling to clear a forest. When therefore we find in 
colony after colony a steady increase in the demand of the 
ordinary man to be heard in the alfairs of his local government, 
and a widening of the franchise to permit him to do so, we are 
simply watching the inevitable reaction of English character to 
circumstance, not the development of any consciously held 
theory of politics. 

The increasing demand for freedom and self-government can 
be seen clearly at work in Massachusetts in the very first 
decade of the Puritan settlement. The Puritan leaders had 
led their hosts of several thousand into the wilderness with the 
intention of being free to worship as //irj chose and to escape 
from political and economic conditions in England. 7 'he 
leaders had brought with them to Massachusetts the original 
charter, intended to be that merely of a trading company, and 
by a skillful interpretation of its clauses they had mack it into 
a sort of constitution for a self-governing State. This act in 
itself was for more than a half century to afford them a remark- 
able training in self-government, but they had no intention of 
allowing democracy in their government or liberty in worship. 
The American dream owes more to the wilderness than to 
them. 

Almost at once the influence of conditions in the new and 
empty land began to make itself felt. The demands and pro- 
tests of the men of Watertown in 1634 showed clearly that the 
plain man with his farm cleared by his own labor was going to 
insist upon a voice in making rules to govern himself. A year 
later, when Roger Williams was banished and fled to Rhode 
Island, it was to establish there in time a colony committed to 
the belief in complete freedom from all dictation in matters of 
religion. In 1638, when Connecticut had been settled for a 



THE MEN OF DESTINY 


41 


couple of years by newcomers from England and discontented 
inhabitants of MassachusettSj the Reverend Thomas Hooker 
preached his famous sermon in which the fundamentals of 
government in the new settlement were proclaimed to be that 
“the foundation of authority is laid, firstly, in the free consent 
of the people . . . those who have the power to appoint 
officers and magistrates, it is in their power, also, to set bounds 
and limitations of the power and place unto which they call 
them.” By the end of the century we find John Wise, a min- 
ister but the son of an indented servant, writing in Massachu- 
setts, although ahead of his time, that government is based on 
“human free-compacts ” and not on divine authority, that its 
only end is “the good of every man in all his rights, his life, 
liberty, estate, honor,” and that “all power is originally in the 
people.” 

The common man had taken a vast step forward. In the 
forests of America he had become perhaps a freer individual 
than he had been at any time in the thousand years since his 
Anglo-Saxon ancestors had dwelt in the forests of Germany. 
The English government, because it was itself the freest at 
that time in the world, had helped along the American tend- 
ency by giving the colonies local governments in which the 
lower houses or assemblies were elected by the people. No 
such gift was given to the inhabitants of New France under 
the feudal regime in fofce there, nor to those of New Spain. 

But if the common man was rising more rapidly toward 
freedom and self-government in the English than in the French 
and Spanish colonies, it is instructive to contrast the three at 
this period in another respect. All were engaged in attempt- 
ing to transplant their European culture to their portions of 
the New World. The .French laid their main stress on the 
religious element, and the effbrt to convert the savage. In this, 
in spite of the almost superhum&n courage and devotion of the 
Jesuit priests, they failed, in part because the work of a few was 
dispersed over thousands of leagues. Moreover, in the small 
French settlements on the St. Lawrence, the poverty and the 
paucity of numbers prevented the building up of any genuinely 



42 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


cultured communities. In New Spain, on the other hand, as 
we have seen, a rather brilliant aesthetic and intellectual 
civilization, although barbaric, had been found, highly organ- 
ized and very wealthy. The Spaniards, who amalgamated 
this with their own, became a sort of ruling caste, the Indians 
performing most of the labor. There thus sprang into existence 
almost at once a class which possessed wealth, leisure, and 
power, and it was through them that the arts were introduced. 
It was they who were responsible for the amazing transplan- 
tation of a full-fledged cultural life. 

When we turn to the English colonics, \ve find an entirely 
new set of conditions, which caused the English to rake a 
place between the cultural failure of the French and the success 
of the Spaniards. To develop the higher life of a civilization 
requires both wealth and leisure — that is, accutjuilated 
resources which will permit men to have some time free from 
the grinding toil of merely feeding and sheltering themselves. 
The savage, with his low standard of living, <jften has more 
“wealth and leisure” than the %'hite man. Because his list 
of wants arc few, he may have ample time to interest himself in 
his primitive arts. 

What the English were trying to do was to establish in the 
wilderness as quickly as posssible, and even in individual cases 
to better, a standard of life to ij,'hich they had been accustomed 
in England, with its centuries of '■accunuiiatcd rc.stmrces. 
Owing, as we have said, to poverty of rasources ami the small- 
ness of the population, such an attempt would have been 
bound to fail in New France. It succtx’dcd in New Spain 
because of the conditions we have noted. It proved ton much 
for the English in this first century. They had been met by no 
such wealthy and organized native civilization as had the 
Spaniards, and in any case their facial pritJe would have pre- 
vented their building their own* civilization U{K)n it as an amal- 
gam. They had, as we have noted, no interest in the Indian as 
a human being. I'hey regarded him, indeed, as somewhat 
higher in the scale than the wolves, but nevertheless as some- 
thing to be cleared from their path, by war or treaty, as rapidly 


I 



THE MEN OF DESTINY 


43 


as might be. If they cared nothing for saving his soul, neither 
for the most part did they about enslaving his body for labor, 
although they tried it. For labor they depended solely on 
themselves and such servants, indentured for a few years to 
pay their passage, as they could get. The few negro slaves 
were of no importance in this period. 

In many cases splendid effort was made to transmit the 
English standards of life and thought, but as the struggle with 
the savages and the wilderness continued, it became evident 
that these standards could not be maintained when energy was 
continually being diverted and consumed by the incessant toil 
of wilderness breaking. Something had to be cast overboard, 
and it proved as always to be the less immediately “useful” 
parts of man’s life, the aesthetic and intellectual. More par- 
ticularly in New England we may see the two tendencies at 
work — that of the increased demand of the common man to 
share in the good things of life, and that of the down drag of 
the wilderness. 

The ideal of the possibility of at least an elementary education 
for everyone came into being, and at the same time the educa- 
tion of the higher class slowly declined. We make much in our 
history of the founding of Harvard in 1636, but this remained 
the only institution above an ordinary school in the colonies 
for nearly sixty years, and was pitiably unimportant in the 
training it afforded and* the scholarship it produced as com- 
pared with the universities in New Spain. In fact nearly two 
hundred years were to pass before any English institution in 
America reached the point which the Spanish had attained 
even before the English had settled at all. As we shall see, 
other races, white and black, were to come to take off the 
shoulders of the English some of the weight of mere physical 
toil, but during this first period, when they essayed the task 
of doing everything for themselVes, they gradually sank, until 
the decade of about 1700 to 1710 marked the lowest period of 
English culture reached in America before or since. 

To some extent the period, like that of every recurring 
frontier, was to leave a lasting scar. It was not merely that 



44 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


the folk arts, such as wood carving, painting of furniture, 
artistic weaving, were more or less abandoned in the hard 
struggle to have anything at all, even if it were not beautiful. 
This was, indeed, also a permanent spiritual loss in itself, but 
the scar that lasted was the feeling developed among the 
ordinary people that such spiritual satisfactions as the arts 
can give are mere trimmings of life. It could be truly said in 
1719 by an early authentic American voice that “ the Plow-man 
that raiseth Grain is more serviceable to Mankind than the 
Painter who draws only to please the Eye,” but under other 
conditions of life, when a surplus has been accumulated, the 
statement has its falsity as well as its truth. A long struggle 
with the frontier was to make it seem true to most of us semper 
et ubique. 

Scattered throughout all the colonies were men of education 
and cultivated tastes, but, on the whole, life became extremely 
small and petty in all the length of these coast settlements. 
Practically all the settlers at first had belonged to the middle 
or laboring class, with the somewhat narrow point of view that 
belongs in genera! to them. This narrowness was greatly 
emphasized by the lack of interests and by the gossipy, prying 
habits of village life everywhere. This latter quality was in 
turn emphasized by that tendency of the Puritan mind which 
makes each one his brother’s keeper to an unholy extent. The 
thoughts of the settlers tended to beccfme ingrowing. Because 
recreation was scarce, even when not frowned upon or prohibited 
in many of its older forms, the settlers occupied themselves too 
much with their neighbors’ morals and habits. The common 
man, who was now finding himself in the role of lawmaker, 
enjoyed his new importance to the full. Moreover, the self- 
made man is proverbially self-satisfied, and in a sense all 
Americans in this period were sclf-fitade. They had performed 
a great task, had shown couragfe and endurance, but they were 
aware of it. In the more strictly Puritan colonics, Puritanism, 
with its assertion that its members are a chosen race, added fuel 
to this burning belief in their own superiority, and left us an 
unhappy inheritance from its believers. "God hath sifted a 



THE MEN OF DESTINY 


45 


whole nation, that he might send choice grain into this wilder- 
ness,” wrote Stoughton. “We are as a city set upon a hill,” 
wrote Bulkeley, “in the open view of all the earth, the eyes of 
the world are upon us, because we profess ourselves to be a 
people in Covenant with God.” In the middle and southern 
colonies, fortunately for leavening America, people took them- 
selves less seriously. 

This first American frontier along the fringe of coast was 
never really a frontier in the later American sense, but in the 
formative stage of the old colonial life it did acquire some of 
the impresses of all frontiers. Man rationalizes and idealizes 
the sort of life that is imposed upon him. In the absence of any 
rich stores of gold or precious stones, and of an adequate 
labor supply, the only way open to the English was plain hard 
work. The machinery of life — farms, houses, capital of all 
sorts; in a word, money and comfort — had to be created as 
the most pressing task of all. Hard work became transmuted 
into a moral virtue and leisure into evil. Mere ease and 
wealth, because so hardly won and won by the exercise of the 
moral virtue of work, took on exaggerated importance and 
became God’s blessing. That first frontier began to set its 
stamp on America. Again and again and again, on successive 
and more genuine frontiers, some of these stamps were to be 
forced down harder and harder. » 

Meanwhile, the Atian*tic seaboard had become definitely 
English. By 1700 thefe were about two hundred and sixty 
thousand Englishmen in the colonies, or about a hundred 
thousand more than there were Spaniards in New Spain, 
whereas there were only about thirteen thousand French on the 
whole continent. The English, moreover, were compactly 
settled, scarcely anywhere more than a hundred miles from the 
shore, with the Appalachians*hemming them in everywhere on 
the west. Ninety per cent of them lived and worked on farms 
or plantations. The rest were fishermen, sailors, clergymen, 
merchants, lumbermen, or what not. Under pressure of 
circumstance most of them had also become Jacks-of-all- trades 
who could turn their hands to making or doing almost any- 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


46 

thing. There probably was not a gentleman of leisure on the 
continent, north of Mexico, unless he were a jailbird or a 
redskin. 

In a few places towns had grown populous. Charleston, the 
only one of importance in the South, may have had fifteen 
hundred people. Philadelphia, which had been laid out only 
in 1683, had grown with amazing rapidity and numbered, like 
New York, about four thousand, whereas Boston, the metropolis 
of the colonies, had possibly seven thousand. But everywhere, 
although pushed back from the coast, the Indian formed a long 
encircling line behind the settlements, hostile or friendly by 
turns, making war or treaties. In village or lonely cabin on 
the outer fringe of settlement the war whoop sounded and 
men slept with their guns beside them. Slowly, doggedly, 
these English felled the forest and the foe. Strong in their 
racial pride, detesting the Indian and other “vermin” that 
barred their way, consciously elect of God, bent on winning 
lands and homes — these were the men of destiny. 



II 

A CIVILIZATION ESTABLISHED 


History has concerned itself greatly with forms of govern- 
ment and the records of politicians and parties. These have 
their place and importance, but more deeply essential is the 
character of a people. The same republican, parliamentary 
system conferred upon Englishmen, Frenchmen, or East Indians 
would become completely different within a few generations. 
Under all the machinery' of life devised or evolved, the varieties 
of humanity twist and turn and end by impressing their own 
idiosyncrasies on the machine, although in the process they 
may themselves be materially influenced. This was the case 
in the colonies. 

The English mind had? long been accustomed to the triple 
combination of King, Lords, and Commons; and in general 
this type was reproduced in Arnerica, with local variations. 
In the experimental stage, when the colonies were first being 
planted, various sorts of government were imposed or developed, 
but, especially after the return of the Stuarts from exile in 1660, 
there was a strong tendency toward increasing the imperial 


48 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


control and making the governments more uniform, a tendency 
which was notable in the forfeiture of the old Massachusetts 
charter in 1684. In general, though Rhode Island and Con- 
necticut remained almost independent, there was in each colony 
a Royal Governor, appointed by the Crown, who represented 
the King; a Council, or Upper House of the Legislature, which 
tended to be undemocratic owing to the methods of selecting 
its members, and for other reasons ; and an Assembly, or Lower 
House, which was popularly elected, as popular election was 
then understood, and w-hich was the chief fighting ground of 
the ordinary people. The Assemblies were splendid arenas 
for the play of popular politics and feeling, and the parliamen- 
tary battles of old England, such as that for the control of the 
purse, were fought over again in almost every colonial govern- 
ment. 

If these governments, however, in their triple form much 
resembled the King, Lords, and Commons of England, there 
were new factors involved which greatly affected the compari- 
son. For one thing, the Royal Governor, too often a needy 
and broken politician from home (though there were notable 
exceptions), was invested with none of the sanctity and rev- 
erence which hedged the monarch himself. The Englishman 
at home felt quite differently toward a King Charles or Wil- 
liam or George from the way acolonial felt toward his Governor, 
Cornbury, Burnet, or Andros. The'se latter were mere men, 
and were fair game in a rough-antf- tumble political fight. 
Moreover, although local laws were enacted by the local gov- 
ernments, Parliament, across the seas, also enacted laws, and 
in that body the colonists were in no way directly represented. 
And there were three thousand miles of perilous seas between 
the old mercantile homeland and the new lands producing 
chiefly raw materials — furs, lumber, fish, tobacco. 

Several important results flowed from these conditions. In 
the first place, the ordinary man represented in the .Assemblies, 
who, as we have seen, had risen considerably in his sense of 
independence and self-esteem in America as contrasted with 
England, felt a good deal freer to fight a parliamentary battle 



49 


A CIVILIZATION ESTABLISHED 

against a governor than his fellow commoner in England did 
to fight one against the King. Moreover, it was a good bit 
safer to play a skillful hand against even His Majesty himself 
when he and his power were on the other side of the Atlantic. 
All passions grow by what they feed upon, and at that time the 
colonists were the freest people anywhere in the world in play- 
ing their political games in their Assemblies. There was no 
lack whatever of loyalty to monarch and mother country, but 
in a sense both King and Parliament were absentees, and the 
colonists were quite naturally convinced that neither knew 
what was good for them as well as they knew it themselves. 
The governors, as representing this absentee government, 
came to represent in the minds of the people an almost foreign 
power, which might, and frequently did, thwart their own will ; 
and so there arose that profound and often unwise conviction 
in America that executive power must always be dreaded, 
whereas full confidence can be reposed in the legislative. 

In this same situation was evolved the germ of another and 
even more serious trait in American character. A sense of 
law and respect for it is one of the deep-rooted traits of Eng- 
lishmen. It was amply displayed in the Mayflower Covenant 
and other acts of the first comers. If a good many (though 
not many in comparison with the total) of the immigrants in 
the first century were taken from,jEnglish jails, it does not mean 
that they were criminals. They had been jailed mostly for 
debt, vagrancy, or trifling thefts, at that time cruelly punished. 
Under better economic conditions, crimes against person or 
property became extremely rare in the colonies — so rare that, 
in spite of the lonely roads through the woods connecting almost 
all the settlements, I have found only one case of highway rob- 
bery in the entire coloni^ period. 

Had the colonies not formed part of an empire, but been 
wholly free to enact their own laws for themselves, it is likely 
they would have continued to respect them, though excess of 
puritanical zeal by the new lawmakers might here and there 
militate against it. Such an unenforceable law, for example, 
as that in Connecticut which called for the putting to death 


50 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


of any boy above sixteen who would not obey his mother was, 
like so many of our later ones, not calculated to maintain the 
majesty of law itself. But the colonies were parts of an em- 
pire, and as laws, some wise and some unwise, were passed over- 
seas, protecting the forests, reserving trees suitable for masts 
for the royal navy, regulating trade, manufactures, and other- 
wise interfering with what the colonists considered their legiti- 
mate interests and profits, they disobeyed them when they 
chose. The right of Parliament to make laws was not at this 
time denied, but, what was more serious, the colonists got in 
the habit of deciding for themselves as individuals which laws 
they would obey and which they would ignore or even forcibly 
resist. 

If a case were brought by a royal official to the courts, juries 
would find for their neighbor and not for the King. Lawbreak- 
ing of some sorts was not serious. The court records are full 
of cases of fines for cursing, slander, fornication, and so on which 
took their appointed course. The serious matter was the drift 
of mind of the rich and leading men of the community as well 
as the common people toward the belief that if a law interfered 
with their business and profits it need not be obeyed, and that 
they were morally justified in nullifying it If they did not per- 
sonally like it. In some cases, as in that of the Molasses Act 
of 1733, such a law would haige meant general ruin for certain 
colonies, and as repeal was shown to be impossible, this seemed 
to sanction the general theory of selection and nullification 
which came to be stretched to cover any law which might mean 
trouble or decreased profit, or even which merely gave the nulli- 
fier an advantage over the man who obeyed it. This is jwrhaps 
the most damaging legacy left to us from this period, empha- 
sized by the frontier life of later epochs to come. 

On the whole, however, the s>'stem of colonial government 
as exercised by England did not work badly until after the end 
of the Seven Years' War in 1763, Certainly it gave the Ameri- 
cans an incomparable schooling in political life. Under it, 
they prospered exceedingly, and by the date named had built 
up a strong and vigorous civilization. .Adventurous life on the 


A CIVILIZATION ESTABLISHED 


51 


outskirts of the world unquestionably breeds a hardy and cou- 
rageous type of men, but for civilization as we know it both 
Wealth and a settled way of living are essential, and these the 
colonies enjoyed during the period from 1700 until 1763. It 
is true that on the edge of settlement, as they pushed ever 
farther and farther back from the sea, the savage was a con- 
stant menace. The terrible massacre of the inhabitants of 
Deerfield was but one incident in the constant clashes of white 
and red along the whole border from Maine to Georgia. Off 
the coasts lurked pirates with their headquarters in Carolina 
bays or Caribbean Islands. Sometimes in league with the 
English authorities and the less scrupulous American business 
men, they even swaggered the streets of little New York, and 
not a few money chests of New Yorkers in high standing were 
filled with “Arabian gold.” Teach, Blackbeard, the notorious 
Captain Kidd, and others gave color to the scene, and helped 
to build up our legendary past in which explorers, pirates, sav- 
ages, western-trekking pioneers, covered wagons, gold seekers, 
bad men, and cowboys pass in endless file across the screen. 

Violence, however, was incidental, and a culture along Eng- 
lish lines, but indigenous to America, quickly arose, and with 
it came not only a much greater richness of life but a fast-in- 
creasing differentiation between the various groups of colonies. 
During most of the seventeenth century, although New Eng- 
land was more given to overseas trade, and more insistent upon 
the utility of a cash balance and of being the elect of God, than 
were the Southern colonies, nevertheless the population of all 
was over 90 per cent agricultural and there was little difference 
in that field. The unit of plantation size in Virginia was about 
the same as in Massachusetts, and even at the end of the cen- 
tury, when negro slavery had begun, over 60 per cent of the 
Southern plantations were aff yet small enough to be tilled by 
the owner himself, when he possessed neither black slave nor 
white indented servant. The chief agricultural difference, 
and it was an important one in its eventual effect, was that from 
Maryland southward it had become apparent that profit lay 
only in raising one staple crop, whereas in the North, owing to 


52 


THE EPIC OF 

different soil and climate, the crops were diversified. From 
1700 or thereabouts, however, three sections emerge, the social 
and economic characteristics of which become markedly 
different as the century advances. 

One of the fundamental needs in America, if a civilization 
was to arise, was the accumulation of capital — that is, of 
resources greater than those consumed in daily living. The 
Spaniards, as we have seen, had found a vast store of capital 
ready to their hands in New Spain, due to the accumulations 
of the earlier civilization, and also an unlimited supply of labor 
for the accumulation of more. The English found none of 
either. By the hardest sort of toil the first settlers provided 
themselves with cleared fields for food and small houses for 
shelter, but beyond that the building up of capital was bound 
to be slow if every individual merely tilled his own fields, the 
results of such toil barely providing for more than the sub- 
sistence of his household. Such a state of society might breed 
certain virtues of its own, and would certainly be equalitarian 
and uniform, but it would not develop a variegated and spirit- 
ually rich civilization. In the absence of machinery, the only 
way in which an energetic, ambitious, able man could extend 
his wealth-producing power was by the use of hired or other 
labor, a part of whose produce would go to the laborers and the 
surplus to himself. By gift 0/ graft he might win from gover- 
nors or legislatures vast grants of land. But so long .as he could 
use only such part as he could till or clear by himself, it was of 
no use to him, save as he might look forward to a labor supply 
or to new settlers to whom he might sell, at low prices. 

For the reason already given, free labor in all the colonies 
was extremely scarce. A man of any value who was free to 
do as he chose would naturally not, be a wage earner when, 
with no more labor than if he worked for someone else, he could 
get a house and farni of his own, and by so doing put himself 
socially and economically on a par with the overwhelming pro- 
portion of his fellow citizens. For the first few generations, 
all the colonies experimented with the use of indented servants, 
whose time and service were bought for a term of years by pay- 



A CIVILIZATION ESTABLISHED 


53 


ing their passage over. After a while the traffic became a busi- 
ness, and the colonists would buy the servant from the sea 
captain who had secured him or her in England and who sold 
their time on arriving in America. In all the colonies. New 
England as well as south, Indian slavery was also tried on a 
small scale, but proved unprofitable, the Indian, unlike his 
Mexican fellow, not being used to a settled life and proving 
intractable in confinement. 

Next, all the colonies tried to solve their labor problem by 
negro slaves, and this proved effective in the South of the single 
staple crop. A white indented servant was more intelligent, 
but he cost from two to four pounds a year for his period of 
service, at the end of which, lured by the free grant of fifty acres 
from the government, he could, and usually did, leave his 
master. On the other hand, a negro slave could be bought for 
eighteen to thirty pounds. If he lived for a similar number of 
years, the cost would be only one pound annually during his 
service, and in addition the master owned all his children, which 
added a considerable unearned increment to his capital. The 
negroes, particularly the women, of the more docile tribes im- 
ported made excellent house servants, though the men were 
not so useful unless their work was simple and more or less 
uniform in nature. This was just the case, however, in the * 
cultivation of tobacco, in which the process, easily learned, con- 
tinued forever without variation. In 1698, there were more 
white indented servants in Virginia than there were blacks, 
and the number imported was greater. Then the tide began 
to turn. With the granting by Spain to England of a monopoly 
of the Spanish slave trade in 1713, a flood of slaves began to be 
shipped to the colonies, the New Englanders, for reasons we 
shall note later, eagerly ^seizing upon the profit to be made in 
the traffic. - 

The type of life which now evolved in the South was in many 
ways the most delightful America has known, and that section 
has become in retrospect our land of romance. It was the 
period of the building of the “great houses,” though they were 
not in reality so very “great,” charming as they were. The 


54 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


Byrd family, which had built their first house in 1690, built 
the present beautiful “ Westover” thirty years later, and when 
we think of the “old South” it is of the lives led in such places 
as these ; we forget the other side of the picture. 

Great landed estates, whether in England, the West Indies, 
our old South or elsewhere, develop certain qualities in their 
owners. The man who has a thousand tenants on his estate 
or a thousand slaves on his plantation develops a sense of re- 
sponsibility and of easy mastery and leadership. It is a patri- 
archal life, quite different from that of an cmpkiyer of labor 
on even a far larger scale when that labor consists only of a shift- 
ing body of daily wage earners. On an estate one has to look 
after “one’s people” from birth to death, from generation to 
generation, in work and in sickness. In the .Stuirh there was 
always also the need for sudden command in case of a slave 
insurrection. 

There is something, moreover, that fosters the aristocratic 
virtues and outlook in the mere fact of iivijig in a large house, 
affording space and privacy, in the midst of one's own vast 
domain. .4 social life is bound to emerge of a type quite tliffcr- 
ent from that in a bustling town where all one’s friends live 
within fiv'e minutes of one another. The peace of the great 
estates, the distances between them which made a “call” usu- 
ally a stay overnight if not of several days, icndcil toward a 
leisurely and unhurried form of socie^.y, ami the need for social 
intercourse was ail the greater for thc;scnii-isolation in which 
all lived. Life took on a comeliness, a grace, and a charm that 
it can nev'er have in a confused, hurried existence. Moreover, 
although it is the way of great planters everywhere to run into 
debt and believe themselves far richer than they arc, the mere 
largeness of their operations, the shipping once a year of a great 
staple crop the value of which runs into high figures, lends * 
feeling of amplitude and scale to their lives. Hospitality be- 
comes as unstinted as it is cordial. When the owners of such 
estates are men of cultivated tastes, the character of theif minds 
is apt to be philosophical, and their culture broad. It is note- 
worthy, in connection with the qualities sketched above, that 



A CIVILIZATION ESTABLISHED 


55 


when the need arose for a man who could lead and inspire an 
army he had to be sought in the great slave owner of Mount 
Vernon, and that the philosopher of the Revolution was the 
great slave owner of Mon ticello. 

Although there had been a strong Puritan tinge to the 
thought of the colonists everywhere, there had not been in the 
South that harsh and determined Puritanism which grew 
steadily more narrow and bitter in New England. The “New 
England conscience” was not found among the first settlers 
in the South. It would probably not have survived the climate 
even if it had been there. 

The Southerners, moreover, maintained a closer connection 
with old England than any of the other colonists. Living on 
their estates, fox hunting, dancing, visiting, playing cricket, 
they were closely allied in sympathy and tastes to the Tory 
gentry of the English county families. They were also in con- 
stant relation with the great mercantile firms of London, not 
merely as buyers and sellers, but as permanent clients whose 
cash balances, or, much more often, whose debits, remained 
on the books of their correspondents for a generation or more. 
Owing to their scattered plantations, any school for a group of 
families of the upper class would have been difficult, so the 
children were taught in their own homes by tutors who were 
usually imported from England, When older, the boys not 
seldom went to Oxford or Cambridge to finish their education, 
and to the Temple to study law and be admitted to the 
bar. The sons of these American planters were no rare visit- 
ants in London society, and brought home with them, when 
they returned, English social training and English tastes. 

Once back in South Carolina, Virginia, or Maryland, the 
young man found himself a member of a distinct governing 
class, which had originally derived its power from being a small 
clique, controlling the Council afnd in close relations with the 
governor, but which gradually transferred its activities to the 
House of Burgesses as class distinction took the broader basis 
of slave owners or non-owners. He would find also a dignified 
house of Georgian type, modified in its architecture by the local 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


56 

conditions of climate, with long avenues of trees leading up to 
it and flower gardens in the English style about it. Within 
were numerous slaves to wait on him, a few books, or in some 
cases well-stocked libraries, to browse in, beautiful furniture 
from England, silver plate and family portraits, and in the 
stables horses to his fancy. The places had not yet been mel- 
lowed by time, and the country was still new and a trifle raw, 
but life was full, rich, and urbane for the young squire as com- 
pared with what his father and grandfather had known. 

As we pass northward to the middle colonies, — Pennsyl- 
vania, the Jerseys, and New York, — we find quite a different 
type of culture. The tobacco fields disappear, and the slaves 
are less in evidence except as house servants, for the simple 
reason that they have not proved so profitable in the economic 
life of these colonies. There have been some large land grants, 
colossal indeed in New York, as we shall see; but without a 
plentiful labor supply and without large immigration these have 
not yet proved so profitable. We find instead the comfortable 
farms of Germans and Welsh as well as English, and the begin- 
nings of manufacturing, notably iron furnaces, which were 
already beginning to be sources of wealth. 

Philadelphia and New York, as ports, were also rapidly out- 
distancing Boston, and much of young American commerce 
was beginning to pass through them. New York, already 
cosmopolitan with eighteen languages' to be heard in it, would 
have grown much more rapidly had the Van Cortlandts, the 
Van Rensselaers, and others, who had secured enormous tracts 
of lands up the Hudson Valley, been willing to encourage set- 
tlement, in which case the back country of the Hudson and 
the Mohawk would have become populous and rich. Their 
policies, however, were selfish and shortsighted, and New York 
alone of the colonies still depended to a great extent upon its 
fur trade. Had this been properly conducted, a vast sphere 
of influence among the Indians might have been developed to 
the west; but, in direct contact with the savage, the French 
were better traders than the New Yorkers, who to a great extent 
found it more profitable to sell their trading goods to the French 



A CIVILIZATION ESTABLISHED 


57 

at Montreal than to exchange them directly with the Indians 
for furs. 

The English governor, Burnet, saw the danger of giving the 
French the advantage of making the Indians dependent upon 
them, but the merchants, preferring their immediate profits 
to any farsighted policy of statesmanship, disobeyed the laws 
prohibiting the French trade, and finally secured the recall of 
the governor. The impression one gets of New York in this 
period is of a hustling, moneygrubbing, rather corrupt com- 
munity, the leaders of which were anxious to get rich quickly 
by any means, however unsocial, even to allying themselves 
with pirates and strengthening the Indian foes. From these 
conditions a rough-and-ready, overbearing, bribing, and un- 
scrupulous type of business man was beginning to emerge. 
Although the town had its theatre and even art exhibitions, 
one does not find in it either the culture of the best families 
in the South or the intense if narrow preoccupation with intel- 
lectual matters that one finds in the Boston circles. 

In New England, the poor soil, the harsh climate, and the 
necessity for diversified crops had utterly precluded the success 
of slave labor out of doors, for which, otherwise, the New Eng- 
landers would have been grateful enough. They had not the 
slightest objection to slavery as an institution in this period, 
and used slaves when they could afford them and where they 
found them profitable, ae in housework. When it became ap- 
parent that farming in New England was always to remain a 
small and unprofitable business, owing to the soil, the inability 
to get white labor, and the impossibility of using black, those 
ambitious to grow rich turned largely to overseas trade, one 
of the profitable branches of which was importing slaves from 
Africa for use in the West Indies and the South. The chief 
currency with which they secured the slaves was rum, and this 
was distilled from molasses, bought mostly in the West Indies. 
In exchange for this, they exported to the islands great quan- 
tities of lumber, staves, horses, and produce of various kinds. 
To pay for their large importations of manufactured goods 
from England, and of wines from the wine islands, they ex- 


58 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


ported their dried fish and every conceivable commodity they 
could raise or procure which would have a market anywhere. 

The balance of trade was always in imminent danger of going 
against them, and, without any staple crop such as enabled 
their richer Southern cousins to live at ease, even when in debt, 
they had to sharpen their wits to drive every possible sort of 
bargain. Although the total volume of their trade was large, 
it was in small lots in small ships, and partook of the nature of 
huckstering. Almost every village which could be reached 
by a small boat, even those far up the Connecticut River, took 
part in it, but Newport and particularly Boston were the 
centres, the latter always remaining the metropolis of the entire 
group of New England colonies. 

The type of mind and character developed by all the New 
England conditions was in marked contrast to that of the South. 
By force of circumstances, “work,” as we have seen, had early 
become, as it was to remain, one of the cardinal American vir- 
tues. If life was to become something more than a mere 
scrabble for existence, capital was necessary in New England 
as well as anywhere else. That section possessed no rich nat- 
ural resources (except fish in the sea), no iron ore for manu- 
facturing, no labor, free or slave, to be exploited. There was 
only one way out. One penny would somehow have to be 
made to do the work of threeji and every possible profit must 
be squeezed out of a bargain with ftjllow citizen or foreigner. 
.\s always, the necessity was rationalized to make it attractive; 
and thrift and shrewdness were added to the ii.st of essential 
virtues. It became sinful to spend freely, just as it was sinful 
not to be forever at work, except on the Sabbath ; and when 
the catch of fish or slaves was good, God had smiled on one of 
his saints. It was all very natural and very human. 

The New Englanders were, indeed, very human. Many 
writers have tried to prove this platitudinous thesis by show- 
ing that they liked gay clothes, that they did occasionally read 
frivolous poetry, that their youths were as amorous as those 
elsewhere, or in such other like ways. A much simpler method of 
observing the obvious truth is to note the manner in which they 



A CIVILIZATION ESTABLISHED 


59 


received the impress of their times and surroundings. When 
the great immigration took place, Puritanism was one of the 
absorbing movements in the life of the English nation. For the 
most part the New England immigrants came from the extreme 
Left Wing, and were Puritans of the Puritans, so far as their 
leaders were concerned. A large part of the general mass was 
not, but from the first the colony, with a good bit of rebelling 
now and then, was forced to take the impress of the clerical 
and lay Left Wing leaders. About the same time that Massa- 
chusetts was settled, a similar migration under the same aus- 
pices had gone to the Caribbean, but there the climate proved 
stronger than Calvin. In New England the soil and climate 
ruggedly backed up the theology of the dominant group. 

As time went on, the gristle of conscience, work, thrift, 
shrewdness, and duty became bone. There were no influences 
making for suppleness. It was good bone, all too lacking 
to-day, but the flesh was missing about it. There was no sof- 
tening effect of climate. Indeed, some of the New Englander’s 
preoccupation with hell fire may be accounted for by the se- 
verity of his winters and the depth of his snowdrifts. There 
were no broadening contacts with the outside world. For 
nearly a century from 1640 there was to be no further immigra- 
tion of any amount. When on one occasion a few misguided 
Scotch-Irish did venture to intrude, they were promptly made 
to feel that they were ndt wanted. 

In any society the influence of the life and outlook of those 
at the top is almost immeasurable. Throughout its first cen- 
tury and more, the leaders in New England steadily declined 
in humane culture. In the first migration, narrow as we may 
think many of them, there had been an ample number of men 
of affairs who had been ki contact with many sides of the rich 
life of England in the seventeenth century. In 1643, for ex- 
ample, of the eighty ministers iff New England over half were 
graduates of Oxford or Cambridge. Fifty years later, of the 
one hundred and twenty-three in Massachusetts and Con- 
necticut, one hundred and seven were graduates of Harvard. 
The freshening airs had ceased to blow, and there was none of 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


6o 

that frequent contact with the culture of the Old World that 
there was in the South. Lack of intercourse with others tended 
to emphasize the New Englander’s deep-rooted belief in his 
own superioritf as the chosen vessel of God for the regenera- 
tion of the world, the “city set on a hill,” with a consequent 
increase in his aloofness and provinciality. The intellectual 
life that remained came to be pedantic and narrow rather than 
humane and broad, with both conscience and thrift operating 
against much that is valuable in social life and the arts. 

There were thus forces at work tending strongly to differ- 
entiate the character of the various sections. There were also 
others which were common to all, and w'hich resulted during 
this period in the formation of the first genuine .'\merican fron- 
tier, which came to stretch, like a selvage edge, at the back of 
ail the varicolored colonies. 

If capital is essential to civilization, it is also obvious that, 
whatever the future of a machine age may be, there cannot be, 
without machines or some very different form of social organiza- 
tion than mankind has ever yet been willing to venture upon, 
any concentration and large accumulation of capital without 
labor. In all history so far, civilization has rested upon ac- 
cumulated capital, and capital upon exploited labor: and as 
labor made the American frontier, and the frontier has largely 
made America what it is, we «re bound to trace the first be- 
ginnings. * 

There had, of course, been some differences in wealth in the 
colonies from the very beginning, but the.sc had been unim- 
portant so long as there was always free land only a few miles 
beyond the line of settlement and little or no labor to be hired. 
At the very opening of the period of this chapter we come upon 
a somewhat different situation. In adittle less than a quarter 
of a century before the Peace of Utrecht in 1713, the popula- 
tion of the colonies had increased from about 213,000 to357,ooo. 
The period had been one of constant danger from the French 
and Indians, and there was no incentive to move beyond the 
line of strong settlements. In fact, that line had actually re- 
treated. The result was that the density of population had 


A CIVILIZATION ESTABLISHED 


6i 

nearly doubled. This would in itself have created new prob- 
lems had not the year in which the war ended seen the emer- 
gence of new forces that were to affect us profoundly. Al- 
though the rise of the capitalists, and the discontent of the 
poor, were common to all the colonies, we must consider the 
different sections in their local aspects. In the preceding period 
capital had been accumulated in various ways, such as planting, 
fishing, fur trading, operating a mill, merchandising, but all on 
a small scale. Farsighted men everywhere had secured for 
themselves large land grants, but had been unable to develop 
them profitably. Now all was to change. 

In Virginia, for example, to begin again with the South, Wil- 
liam Fitzhugh in 1684 had twenty-four thousand acres of land 
with only three hundred under cultivation. He had a mill, 
two stores, and raised cattle and hogs. He was one of the very 
rich men of his day, but his land could not produce income 
without labor, and he had only twenty-nine slaves for all his 
enterprises. Control of labor was control of power, like water, 
steam, or electricity, and as usual it would enure to the benefit 
of those who could first preempt a share in it. Up to the be- 
ginning of the eighteenth century there had been poor white 
men farming in the South, but no “poor whites.” The rela- 
tion of a vast plantation, with its equipment of several hundred 
slaves, to a single-handed farm, Jiowever, was soon to be simi- 
lar to that of a modern textile mill to the cottage of the hand 
weaver. Such a vast plantation called for two things — land 
and slaves. 

The large landholdings were for the most part got in devious 
ways, through official position, influence with the aristocratic 
Council, or “friendship,” so to say, with the Royal Governor. 
But all of this required* a social position, connections, and a 
finesse wholly beyond the sphere of the ordinary settler. Once 
the land was got, moreover, the purchase of slaves on a con- 
siderable scale called for capital which only those who had 
secured it by marriage or in the various ways noted above would 
possess. The quality of the tobacco raised by the white farmer 
on his few acres was far better than that raised on the big plan- 


62 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


tations by slave labor, but the small farmer became helpless 
when it came to disposing of his crop in the face of such com- 
petition. As in all large-scale businesses, economies could be 
effected, connections made, and terms arranged which are 
beyond the reach of the small individual. Moreover, as the 
land became absorbed by the fortunate and the new source of 
black slave power was applied to it, the price went up, and it 
became more difficult for the poorer man to secure good and 
convenient acreage for himself or his children. 

Meanwhile the rich grew richer, intermarried, controlled 
the Council, formed a clique with the governor, and for them 
all went merry as a marriage bell. A hitherto unknown gulf 
began to separate these “first families” from the farmers till- 
ing their own soil behind their mules. The great plantations 
became self-sustaining units, making their own harness, clothes 
for slaves, raising up their carpenters, wheelwrights, and every 
sort of handicraftsman. Not alone was the competition killing, 
but racial pride came into the problem, and the poor white 
farmer or artisan was put down to a hopeless position as com- 
pared with the rich — on a level with the negroes, unless he 
owned some. In increasing numbers these new poor whites 
gave up the fight, left the old farm, and trekked up to the high 
lands of the western part of the colony to begin again on 
a frontier. • 

In Maryland the same tendency was at work, with varia- 
tions, Slaves were brought in, but men like Carrol! and Du- 
lany, who had acquired enormous tracts of land, preferred in 
part to settle them with tenant farmers, and so carry them 
until the increase in population should give them enhanced 
value. The possibility of owning land in fee simple had always 
been, and long remained, one of the chief inducements to under- 
taking the great risk and hardship of immigration to the New 
World. Even a nominal quitrent was greatly di.sliked, which 
may account in part for the first heavy migration to New Eng- 
land. It was still more difficult to find men who were willing 
to become tenant farmers, as in the Old World, and it was only 
a special set of circumstances, all militating against the poor, 



A CIVILIZATION ESTABLISHED 63 

which enabled the large Maryland proprietors to build up their 
estates around 1730 to 1745 with tenants of a foreign race. 

For long there had been distress of the most appalling sort 
in both Germany and Ireland. In the first, the results of the 
Thirty Years’ War, which ended in 1648, had been ghastly 
beyond comparison with even the recent Great War. One 
county alone had lost 85 per cent of its horses, over 80 per cent 
of its cattle, and 65 per cent of its houses, while 75 per cent of 
its population had been killed. In the latter part of the cen- 
tury, sections of the country were harried by the French, and 
the unfortunate peasants, trying to build up some sort of life 
again, sowed their crops only to have them destroyed by the 
enemy. To all this was added political and religious perse- 
cution. Between 1683 and 1727, probably about twenty thou- 
sand of these unfortunate Germans emigrated to Pennsyl- 
vania. Those first coming found ample lands on which to settle 
near Philadelphia, but as these were taken up or the price ad- 
vanced, the later comers were forced further into the wilder- 
ness, and, by way of its northern end, began to settle in the 
valley of the Shenandoah. * 

Ireland had been nearly as badly off. Ulster had been set- 
tled largely by Scots, but the Revolution of 1689 in England 
left them crushed. Ten years later they were hard hit by the 
law against woolen manufacturing. In the second decade of 
the eighteenth century, in the midst of almost hopeless economic 
depression, great numbers of long-time leases fell in and the 
landlords insisted upon renewing them at double and even treble 
the old rents. There were wholesale ejections, and drought, 
sheep rot, and epidemics of smallpox added to the unspeakable 
misery of the Protestant population, whose standard of living 
had been higher than that of the Catholic Irish. By 1729 per- 
haps seven or eight thousand had emigrated to America, mostly 
to Pennsylvania, but in that year six thousand landed at Phila- 
delphia, and two years later Logan wrote that it looked as 
though Ireland were about to dump her entire population on 
the colony. Partly on account of their extreme poverty, these 
immigrants at once sought lands at little cost or none on the 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


64 

extremest frontier yet settled, in the Susquehanna and Cumber- 
land valleys, up the Juniata, and down into the Shenandoah. 

I t was out of the misery of Germany that the Maryland land- 
lords determined to build up their tenantry. Agents were sent 
abroad and went through the Palatinate and other sections 
where the suffering and discontent were greatest, preaching the 
wonderful opportunities in the New World. The operations 
were on a large scale and costly. They proved, however, ex- 
tremely profitable. Dulany’s great tracts in Frederick County 
had been unbroken wilderness in 1730, but in fifteen years he 
had laid out the town of Frederick and the county had become 
the second most populous in the colony. These leases enabled 
the landlords to carry their land and reap a colossal harvest 
as the country filled up, and land tripled in price between 1730 
and 1760. In 1774, when John Adams met Carroll’s son at 
the Continental Congress, he noted that he was “of the first 
fortunes in America. His income is ten thousand pounds ster- 
ling a year, will be fourteen in two or three years, they say; 
besides his father has a vast estate which will be his.” 

In New York at the beginning of the eighteenth century, 
leading business men and politicians, such as the Schuylers, 
Beckmans, and Livingstons, had secured enormous land grants 
by connivance with disreputable governors, notably Fletcher 
and Cornbury, and it was said that by the time Fletcher left, 
three quarters of the entire availabk land in the colony had 
been granted to thirty persons, one grant, under Cornbury, 
being for two million acres. Schuyler and his associates ob- 
tained another in the Mohawk Valley fifty miles long. In 
various ways Robert Livingston secured an estate sixteen 
miles wide and twenty-four long. The New Yorkers, however, 
were too grasping in their terms and the treatment they meted 
out to settlers, and after some attempts the Germans gave the 
colony a wide berth, while it was obviously no place for the 
Scotch-Irish. Some settlements were made out on the frontier, 
but these were perpetually harried by the demands of the land- 
lords. 

In New England, although the grants obtained from com- 


A CIVILIZATION ESTABLISHED 


6S 

placent legislatures were smaller in extent, so also was the 
amount of tillable soil, and as the century advanced and popu- 
lation increased, the people found themselves hard put to it to 
find speculative townships on the frontier where they could 
make their homes, and when they did so they suffered from the 
exactions of the proprietors under the New England system. 
Even so worthy a citizen as Ezra Stiles saw to it, when he helped 
to promote such a speculation, that the proprietors should hold 
all the shares that carried control of taxation, although such 
proprietors often never even saw the place itself. 

The new frontier, which for all these reasons was being formed 
all along the colonies, beyond the back line of the old settle- 
ments, was quite different in spirit from that of the first sea- 
board plantings. In the beginning, opportunity had been 
more or less open to all, and there was a feeling that all were 
united in an arduous and dangerous enterprise. By the middle 
of the eighteenth century, opportunity appeared to a great 
extent to have been monopolized by the rich and influential, 
and many of the poorer people felt that even here in the New 
World they were being shut out not only from a chance to rise, 
but from opportunity to maintain their living on a small scale. 
The advancing wealth of society as a whole had affected the 
poorer people chiefly adversely, when it had done so at all. 
Their farms were no larger, their houses and furniture no better. 
Their labor had not been lightened. No inventions or ma- 
chinery had come into being which altered the routine of their 
lives. On the other hand, there was evident to any observer 
an immense increase in the wealth, luxury, and leisure of the 
fortunate rich. Yet what all classes desired was comfort, sta- 
bility, and safety in a home life, whether in a village or on their 
farms. • 

There was as yet no genuine frontier spirit, not even among 
those who were forced out by ecdnomic maladjustment or mis- 
fortune into the renewed danger and hardship of the wilder- 
ness and the Indian country. If, when they tramped westward 
with their families and few belongings, they held courage and 
hope in their hearts, they also lodged bitterness there against 



66 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


the colonial rich whom they deemed responsible for their plight. 
Moreover, on the first fringe of settlement, which had never 
really been an American “frontier,” rich and poor, learned and 
ignorant, had worked and lived in the same community. This 
newer frontier sheltered only the poor and the comparatively 
ignorant. The original settlers had been looked down upon 
by nobody, but now the inhabitants of the older settlements 
did look down upon the frontiersmen, who came to be termed 
“buckskins” and who w'ere made to feel their inferiority in 
sophistication. 

One other important factor in the new situation must be 
noted. If the rapid and, it must be added, essential and fortu- 
nate creation of capital was bringing about a di.stinction be- 
tween rich and poor in the old settlements, if a frontier was 
coming into existence with grievances against the .seaboard 
and its culture, there was also an element of no little significance 
in the character and circumstances of the new immigration. 
By the middle of the eighteenth century there may have been 
80,000 Swiss and Germans and 50,000 Scotch-Irish in the colo- 
nies, these groups forming over 10 per cent of the total popu- 
lation. In this large leaven, the Teutonic portion had no at- 
tachment whatever to England, and, indeed, nor the slightest 
interest in her. If they had taken any interest in .^nglo-colonial 
relations, it could only have •been to regard England, not as 
the mother country to which they were bound by ties of senti- 
ment and descent, but as a foreign and unknown power. On 
the other hand, the Scotch-Irish had left their old homes with 
a deep, bitter, and abiding hatred of Enghuid and her ways. 
From her had come all their woes ami the need of abandoning 
their homes. 

Moreover, these people had beconv.* thoroughly embittered 
against the political and economic power of those above them 
in their old landis, and their experiences on their way to .America 
and when they landed did nothing to assuage this. We have 
heard much of the horrors of the “Middle Passage” for the 
negro slaves captured in Africa and herded into ships for trans- 
portation across the sea. But the Scotch and Germans fared 



A CIVILIZATION ESTABLISHED 


67 


little if any better. On the voyage the food was often so rotten 
and maggoty as to be uneatable. Delay from calms brought 
the immediate spectre of death by starvation or thirst. In 
many instances they fought for the dead bodies of rats, and in 
at least one case, officially reported, they had eaten six human 
bodies and were cutting up a seventh when sighted by another 
ship and supplied with a little food. There were almost no 
sanitary arrangements and the filth and vermin were unbe- 
lievable. On one immigrant ship three hundred and fifty 
passengers died out of four hundred, and these figures can be 
almost duplicated in many other instances. The mortality 
was always frightful. Costs were piled up on the immigrants 
unexpectedly and to such great extent that on landing, when 
the living would be held accountable for the passage money of 
the dead, they would often have to sell themselves into bond- 
age, and families would be torn apart and sold to different tem- 
porary owners as if they had been negro slaves. 

It is not surprising that when these famished creatures fi- 
nally got away safe from the clutches of every kind of sharper 
and made off for the wilderness, — if they were so lucky as to 
be able to do so, — they would have little regard for land titles, 
and would soon begin to develop a “frontier” spirit, and claim 
that “ it was against the law of God and nature that so much 
land should be idle while so many Christians wanted it to labor 
on and to raise bread.” .If capital is essential for civilization, 
it is well not to forget 'the price that humble humanity pays 
for it. 

Meanwhile a civilization had developed, and Franklin could 
say in 1756 that the “ English settlements, as they are at present 
circumscribed, are absolutely at a stand ; they are settled up 
to the mountains.” To„the south of the colonies, in Florida 
and along the Gulf, was Spanish territory. Everywhere else, 
west of the Appalachians and north of New England, was the 
power or the shadow of the claim of France. A few bold spirits 
like Captain William Bean and Daniel Boone had penetrated 
into Kentucky, but only the seaboard was English, and that 
had now become fairly populated, wealthy, safe, and cultured. 


68 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


Boston could not have been distinguished, had one been set 
down in it without knowing where he was, from a provincial 
town in England. The fields, the elms, the whole landscape 
aboutit, as in the Connecticut Valley, were taking on the aspect 
of the peaceful English countryside. In the South, a young 
Englishman would have been completely at home in the country 
family life, except for the presence of the black slaves. Ameri- 
can newspapers, such as the Maryland and Virginia Gazettes, 
were quite as good as those of the same period in England. 
After the middle of the century there were frequent orchestral 
concerts in New York and the Southern towns — Charleston, 
South Carolina, being a centre for music as for the other arts. 
From 1750 to 1770, Mr. and Mrs. Hailam, noted London actors, 
and their troupe, gave repertoires all through the colonies as 
far north as New York, consisting of the best plays then in the 
language — by Shakespeare, Addison, Congreve, Steele, Far- 
quhar, and others. In painting, Copley was beginning his 
career, and in Benjamin West the New World was to give a 
president to the Royal Academy in England. In 1757 there 
was an exhibition of paintings in New York, ail of which were 
by American painters. There were also the beginnings of 
sculpture. Many men were busying themselves with scientific 
discovery, Franklin with his experiments In electricity being 
merely the most notable. 'Jhe colleges of Harvard, William 
and Mary, Yale, Princeton, Dartnimith, Rutgers, and Brown 
had all come into being. The movement for public lil>raries, in 
which America has always led the world, had also got started, 
and I have found twenty-three all the way from Maine to 
Georgia by 1763. 

If a distinction had developed between rich and poor, never- 
theless even the poor were better ^ff, freer and more inde- 
pendent than they had been in Europe. .Ahtn'c ail, they had 
glimpsed the American dream. English, Irish, Scotch, Ger- 
mans, all who had come to our shores, had come to find security 
and self-expression. They had come with a new dynamic hope 
of rising and growing, of hewing out for themselves a life in 
which they would not only succeed as men but be recognized 


A CIVILIZATION ESTABLISHED 


69 


as men, a life not only of economic prosperity but of social and 
self-esteem. The dream derived little assistance from the 
leaders in America. It was arising from the depths of the com- 
mon mass of men, and beginning to spread like a' contagion 
among the depressed in the Old World. It was already begin- 
ning to meet with opposition from the “upper classes” in the 
New, but it was steadily and irresistibly taking possession of 
the hearts and minds of the ordinary American. It was his 
Star in the West which led him on over the stormy seas and 
into the endless forests in search of a home where toil would 
reap a sure reward, and no dead hands of custom or exaction 
would push him back into “his place.” 

If American culture was as yet a little thin, it was genuine, 
though European. In many ways, perhaps, Franklin typified 
it best. Making Philadelphia his home, though born in Bos- 
ton, he occupied in more ways than geographically a middle 
position in colonial life. Shrewd, practical, always alive to the 
main chance, anxious to make money and rise in the world, 
yet keenly alive to a life above moneygrubbing, he had, on the 
one hand, none of the genuine depth or the religious fervor of 
the New England intellectual (nor his conscience), and, on the 
other hand, none of the humane quality or natural gentility 
of the Southern gentleman. Always something of an actor, 
with genuine ability, a self-made man in every way, he was ever 
ready to make the best of every situation and, zf there were two, 
of both worlds. Coriiplete Intellectual disinterestedness was 
as foreign to his nature as religious exaltation. He could draft 
a plan of union for the colonies, or invent a stove or a lightning 
rod, yet there was also that in him which brought the French 
to pay homage to him as a philosopher. If we were as yet able 
to say what an American is, we might name him as the first. 

In any case, the time seemed to have come in America, as he 
said, to think of other things beSide exploiting and settling the 
wilderness. There appeared no reason why the colonial civili- 
zation and culture should not progress indefinitely on the lines 
already so well begun. Had the waves of the Pacific instead 
of the fleeting power'of France been all that lay on the western 


70 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


side of the Appaiachians, this might have been the case. But 
there had been a rise in the potential of power and ambition 
in the American English, rich and poor; instead of a waste 
of waters behind the mountain barrier there were nearly three 
thousand miles of virgin continent; and forced by defeat, in 
1763, France by a stroke of the pen renounced ail claim to the 
New World. In the next half century, the mass of the Ameri- 
can West was to deflect the apparently established course of 
American culture and eventually to drag the entire world into 
the maelstrom of strange ideals. 

There was no “standardization” at this time, and it was a 
varied scene that was composed of our different sections. In 
New England, merchants sat in their countinghouses, figuring 
the gains from rum and slaves and English goods ; small farmers 
tilled their few and stony acres ; and on Sundays both united 
in singing in their meetinghouses verses equally stony from the 
old Bay Psalm Book: — 

“The earth Jehovahs is, 

And the fullness of it : 

The habitable world, & they 
That thereupon doe sit. . . .” 

In the South the Virginian gentleman lived his English country 
life, raised his tobacco, hunted his foxes, or hung over the spinet 
while his sweetheart sang aij. old Cavalier song of the Pre- 
tender. “Oh! send Laurie Gordon hame. 

And the lad I daurna nime; 

Though his back be at the Wa’, 

Here ’s to him that ’s far awa’.” 

Outside in the dusk from the slave quarters came the throaty 
voices of negroes singing in the dialect of their new tongue, 
with overtones of the swish of an overseer’s lash or the beating 
of remembered far-off tom-toms in the jungle. It might be 
a gay jingle or one of the plaintive melodies that the slaves had 
made their own : — 

" De night is dark, de day is long, 

And we are far from home. 

Weep, my brudders, weep!” 



A CIVILIZATION ESTABLISHED 


71 


Along the Mississippi and the rivers of the North, the French 
voyageur plied his paddle, gathering furs for the storehouse in 
Montreal, humming while he dreamed of the old Norman 
farm: — 

“Fringue, fringue sur la riviere, 

Fringue, fringue sur Taviron.” 

Far to the southwest and over the Rockies in California, the 
bells of Spanish missions among the roses called the faithful 
to Mass, or young men sang under windows from which black 
eyespeeredout: — 

“Lo que digo de hoy en dfa, 

Lo que digo le sostengo, 

Yo no vengo a ver si puedo, 

Yo no vengo a ver si puedo, 

Yo no vengo a ver si puedo, 

Sino porque puedo, vengo!” 

Varied, colorful life in far-scattered regions. But the 
America of the future was to stem from none of these. A bit 
of all of them was to be mingled in the melody of the twentieth 
century, but sternly dominant over all we hear the stroke, stroke, 
stroke of the axe on trees, the crash of the falling giant — 
advancing woodsmen making their clearings ; Democracy ; 
“business.” 


Ill 

AMERICA SECEDES FROM THE EMPIRE 

During the colonial period, as well as for long after, the wars 
between European nations always involved their nationals 
in America in the strife. What we call the French and Indian 
War, which ended in 1763, was merely the American phase of 
the Seven Years* War abroad.r When peace was made by the 
Treaty of Paris, France ceded to England all of her American 
territory east of the Mississippi River, except the town of New 
Orleans, which, with whatever rights she possessed west of the 
Mississippi, she transferred to Spain on the same day. Thus, 
with the exception of Spain’s claims along the Gulf coast and in 
the far West, England came into possession of the entire North 
American continent up to the Arctic aijd east of the great river. 
The Spaniards were not idle, however, and were soon pushing 
settlement up the Pacific Coast, founding the city of San Fran- 
cisco almost at the very moment when English and Colonials 
were slaughtering each other on the slopes of Bunker Hill- 
Nations seldom if ever pass through great conflicts without 
some change in outlook, and the Seven Years’ War, following 


r' 


I 


I' 


AMERICA SECEDES FROM THE EMPIRE 73 

immeHiately on the War of the Austrian Succession, had been 
one involving almost every great State in Europe — England, 
France, Spain, Austria, Russia, Sweden, and the various ones 
now included in Germany. It was almost a “world war,” 
involving all European and American civilizations. It left 
Europe with altered ideas, new fears, and in unstable balance, 
much as did the last great war. 

One of the changes in ideas, though not clearly perceived by 
all, was an alteration in the theory of empire. Hitherto all 
nations had looked upon their colonial possessions as sources 
of raw materials, — gold, furs, sugar, tobacco, or what not, — 
and as consumers of the manufactured goods made in the old 
countries. The theory was almost exactly that of a great 
modern trust that tries to combine all branches of business 
from raw materials to final sale in its own organization. For 
some time, however, European nations had been drifting into 
the r61es of world powers. Vaguely but actually, a new feeling 
of imperialism was coming into being. It was long debated in 
both the English cabinet and the public press whether England 
should demand of France her rich West Indian islands or 
Canada as one of the spoils of victory. The sugar islands 
fitted into the old mercantile theory of what the empire should 
be. Possession of Canada belonged to the new imperialism. 
The die was cast for the latter. A profound change, little 
recognized, had come iiito Anglo-American relations. 

Under the old system, the whole fabric of colonial adminis- 
tration had been organized for the purpose of seeing that the 
colonies remained in their appointed r61es in the imperial 
structure, as producers of raw materials and consumers of 
manufactured goods. Most of the laws passed in England had 
had this for their purpose. Although objected to now and then 
in specific cases, they were accepted by the colonists, who had 
no aversion to the system itself, but only to certain mani- 
festations of it when they were galled too severely on a sore 
spot. England had had no occasion to spend much money on 
her colonies, or, except in the normal course of colonial trade, 
to draw any from them. In the beginning they had been 


74 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


largely business ventures. The English colonies had mostly 
planted themselves. They had fought their own local fights 
with the Indians on their frontiers. They had settled little by 
little land which their numbers could hold against local foe — 
savage, French, or Spaniard. 

Now, however, all was altered. International relations had 
gone a long way toward modern conditions since the time when 
English buccaneers could undertake almost single-handed to 
“singe the beard” of the King of Spain, while the English mon- 
arch looked on complacently ready to share plunder if all went 
well, or to jail or behead the offender if the case got too hot. 
The modern State and modern international relations were fast 
emerging. England had gained by war a territory encircling 
the original colonies and of more than double their extent east 
of the mountains. This enormous expanse of Canada and the 
Mississippi Valley, with perhaps two hundred thousand 
Indians on it hostile to the new regime, needed governing. 
There were also eighty-five thousand conquered French, of 
whom twenty-two thousand probably were capable of bearing 
arms- France herself, defeated but not broken, was known to 
be hungering for revenge when the chance might come. The 
colonies had always shown themselves jealous of each other 
and unable to unite in any war against a common foe or in any 
general Indian policy. In the- war just ended, England had had 
to send nearly twenty thousand troops to America to help the 
colonies against the French. Quite apart from the desire to 
govern the empire from the centre, no sane government could 
have turned over the problems of defense and Indian policy in 
the new domain to the thirteen separate colonies to handle with 
their own resources. The colonists had never managed the 
Indians well and usually managed to incur their hatred, with 
the exception of the Iroquois. If, according to the old theory 
of empire, the fur trade must be made to yield its raw material, 
so, according to the new, must this acquisition of a half conti- 
nent be held and policed. The French, though now subjects, 
could not be counted as loyal, and almost the entire population 
of savages were under their influence. 


AMERICA SECEDES FROM THE EMPIRE 75 

It was caleula ted that ten thousand troops would be none too 
many to police the new realm. It was obvious that the colonies 
would not raise any such number or pay them if they did. The 
new imperialism was going to cost a lot of money. It was also 
evident that the replacement of French by English rule in the 
newly acquired territory would be of great eventual benefit to 
the colonies already bordering on it. It was again evident 
that the English debt was colossal as the result of the long 
struggle, and that if empire were going to prove costly beyond 
the ability of England to carry alone, the colonies, who shared 
the benefits, should share to some extent the cost. The mem- 
bers of the successive British governments of the next few years 
were none too clever, but these ideas gradually began to take 
root in their minds, mixed with the old feelings that the colo- 
nies existed chiefly for the benefit of the mother country and 
owed obedience to her. 

At the time the treaty was signed in Paris in 1763, French 
diplomats predicted, as occasional foreign observers like the 
Swede Kalm had before, that, the French menace having been 
removed from the colonial frontier, the colonists would have no 
more need to rely upon England and would quarrel with her 
whenever it suited their convenience. Although this view has 
been adopted by many American historians, I do not think that 
this point had much influence upon Anglo-American relations. 
In point of fact, easily accepted as the theory has been, I do 
not find any expression in American public opinion of the day 
to warrant the belief that the expulsion of France had any- 
thing to do with the subsequent war with England. 

America had, for other reasons, been becoming more self- 
conscious and sure of herself. As early as 1701, Governor 
Nicholson in Virginia h^d noted that the country was then 
mostly populated by colonial born, and that the people were 
beginning to “have a sort of aversion to others, calling them 
strangers.” During the next decade, the united efforts of 
English and colonials to conquer Canada, in which the English 
showed up very badly, gave the colonials a very good opinion of 
themselves in contrast ; as did also the mismanaged Cartagena 


76 


THE EPIG OF AMERICA 


expedition of 1741, in which over thirty-five hundred colonial 
troops took part, and the capture of Louisburg by the New 
Englanders in 1745. The Seven Years’ War had begun with- 
out formal declaration, and in the beginning over four of the 
five thousand troops engaged in America were colonials, 
although later the overwhelming number were British, Wolfe 
having only seven hundred colonials among his eighty-five 
hundred regulars at Quebec, and Amherst only one hundred 
among his eleven thousand. The disastrous Braddock cam- 
paign, however, had left an indelible impression. 

The question of relative Anglo-American strengths or of the 
presence or absence of the French had little to do, nevertheless, 
with the conflict now looming, except in so far as the Americans 
had grown more conscious of being a people who had rights and 
who were used to governing themselves. Indeed, it has been 
said that England’s chief blunder was in not recognizing a 
nation when she saw one. It must be said, however, that the 
Americans themselves did not, in fact, see “a nation.” They 
were merely Virginians, or Pennsylvanians, or New Eng- 
landers, who came to feel certain grievances which they under- 
took to resist. There was no nation on the horizon, then — 
merely two million sturdy, prosperous people scattered under 
thirteen different governments, in each of which, in innumerable 
local conflicts with their govetmors, the colonials had usually 
been allowed to gain their own way in the end, a way which 
they had become incurably sure of having. 

Except for sections on the frontier which suffered from 
Indian raids, the colonies had not been the seat of any of the 
military operations of the Seven Years’ War, which ended, as 
far as America was concerned, in 1760. As always happens in 
a war, a good many new fortunes h^d been built up. Pri- 
vateering frequently proved exceedingly profitable, and the 
great prizes brought in encouraged speculation. Army con- 
tracts — such, for example, as one for two million pounds of 
beef and two million pounds of bread, among other supplies — 
lined the pockets of the contractors, who always emerge rich 
from such troubled periods. Business of ail sorts had come 



AMERICA SECEDES FROM THE EMPIRE 77 

to be conducted on a much larger scale, and we can clearly 
trace the growing connection between business leaders and 
subservient or participating legislatures, even one so close to 
the people as that of Connecticut. Lawyers were rising into 
prominence as business affairs became larger and more complex, 
and they also began to appear in legislatures. 

For a while the farming and laboring classes had shared in 
the war-time prosperity ; the farmer had got war-time prices 
and the laborer’s wages had risen rapidly as the scarcity of 
labor had increased and floods of paper money had worked 
their usual inflation. But when the bubble broke, all of these 
classes suiffered severely. Taxes had risen rapidly with the 
debts contracted by the several colonies. The currency be- 
came heavily depreciated. General business fell off sharply. 
The price of farm produce crashed. Many of the laborers and 
farmers had to abandon their homes. There was a severe de- 
cline in the price of farm land in the older settlements, many 
foreclosures of mortgages, lawsuits for debts which wiped out 
all equities. Once more the frontier seemed to offer the only 
hope to many of the poor who could not weather the storm. 

But in 1763 came a stunning blow. England by procla- 
mation forbade any colonials to cross the watershed of the 
mountains to settle. This was the British government’s 
solution of the Indian problem, ope of the first which required 
to be settled with respect to the new Canadian and western 
territory. The Minister.s feared — not without good cause, as 
Pontiac’s conspiracy was to show — that, with the savages 
already hostile to the English r%ime and perhaps stirred up by 
the French, there would be constant trouble on the frontier if 
the settlers pressed into the Indian hunting grounds. The 
valuable fur trade had to be preserved, and England had no 
wish to garrison a frontier of perhaps twelve hundred miles. 
As a temporary expedient, the government lit upon the idea of 
holding back immigration to the western country, and, in order 
to keep the Indians quiet, to erect for the present a large 
Indian territory. Unfortunately, with the procrastination in 
government affairs characteristic of the times, what was in- 



78 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


tended to be only a temporary expedient was never seriously 
considered again. The Americans felt that they had given 
considerable help in conquering America from the French, and 
were furious at being told that they must not enter the promised 
land. The population was doubling every twenty to twenty- 
five years. The post-war suffering was keenly felt. Canute 
might as well have commanded the waves not to advance as 
for the British government to forbid the .Americans, in their 
distress, to seek new fortune across the mountains — except 
that the waves would not have resented it, whereas the colo- 
nists did. 

We have already seen that there was plenty of resentment on 
the frontier in any case — resentment against New England 
land speculators, against the all-engrossing land-grabbers in 
New York, against the new slavocracy in the South; resent- 
ment on the part of the new immigrants against those who had 
cheated and ill-used them ; resentment against the landlords of 
England by the Scotch-Irish. Typical of the feeling of the 
latter was the inscription that was carved on the tombstone of 
one of them in the Shenandoah Valley. “Here lies,” so it read, 
“the remains of John Lewis, who slew the Irish Lord, settled 
Augusta County, located the town of Staunton, and furnished 
five sons to fight the battles of the American Revolution.” 
There is ample evidence that the frontier was full of com- 
bustible material — lawless, resentfuLnradical, and independent. 
Moreover, in the older settlements the poorer people were full 
of trouble and grievances at this time and quite ready to father 
them upon anyone. Even the rich were beginning to feel hard 
times. If more grievances came, it would not be very diffi- 
cult to stir sedition into a flame. There was a flare-up in 1761 
when the Courts in Boston were askqd by the revenue officers 
to issue new “writs of assistance,” all the old ones having 
expired with the death of George 11 . These were of the nature 
of general search warrants, not naming the particular place to 
be searched or the object to be searched for, and had been used 
for some years, at the suggestion of Pitt, chiefly to try to pre- 
vent the illicit trade between Boston merchants and the French 


AMERICA SECEDES FROM THE EMPIRE 79 


! 

V 





enemy, which had been prolonging the war. J arnes Otis, who 
argued against them in a fiery speech, although he lost his case, 
took the proper ground that they were destructive of liberty, 
and John Adams once said that the American Revolution 
began then and there. 

The first move made by the English government to re- 
organize the administration of the empire was along the lines 
of old legislation accepted by the colonists in principle though 
not complied with in practice. In 1764, in an effort to secure 
some customs revenue, which heretofore had sufficed only to 
pay a quarter of the cost of collection, the Sugar Act was 
passed by Parliament, followed by two others in the next two 
years. 

These three Acts might have seriously demoralized commerce, 
but as their incidence happened to be almost wholly on the 
trade carried on by New England, the issue was not felt by all 
the colonies. The Stamp Act in 1765, however, as being 
internal taxation, affected every colony alike, though not to 
equal extent financially, as did also the Townshend Acts of 
1767, which included duties on imports of manufactured 
articles from Great Britain. Moreover, both these last were 
especially designed to transfer a revenue from the colonies in 
sterling or bills of exchange, when it was difficult enough to 
find sufficient of either to make good the annual adverse 
balance of trade. They also marked a new sort of legislation, 
different from the mere trade regulation of old. 

The excitement during these years was intense. The 
economic structure of the colonies, already seriously affected, 
was threatened with ruin. Business grew rapidly worse, and 
the passage of the Stamp Act had given a focus for every 
possible form of discontent. The reaction expressed in vary- 
ing tones from Patrick Henry’s well-known speech up to the 
dignified papers drawn up by representatives of the various 
colonies in the Stamp Act Congress, as well as the mobbing 
and burning of houses in various towns, made the British 
government realize it had gone too far as a matter of expedi- 
ency. Both the Sugar Act and the Stamp Act were soon 


8o 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


repealed, and in 1770, after a non-importation agreement, 
enforced in the colonies, had reduced imports from Great 
Britain by nearly half, the Townshend Acts also were largely 
modified, leaving only a trifling tax on tea as a symbol of the 
power of Parliament. The much disliked Act quartering 
British soldiers on the colonists where garrisons were main- 
tained was also allowed to lapse without being reenacted. The 
British government pledged itself to attempt to raise no further 
revenue in America ; the non-importation agreements were 
rescinded; and American imports from England rose from 
£1,634,000 in 1769 to £4,200,000 in 1771. Here and there in 
various colonies there were local grievances against England, 
but prosperity had returned to America, and the wealthy, as 
well as many of the classes dependent on them, were inclined 
to forget the quarrel with the mother country. 

Meanwhile, however, much that was ominous for the future 
had happened. The merchant and other wealthy and con- 
servative classes had been chiefly anxious to avoid trouble and 
merely to get the obnoxious acts rescinded. The English mind 
which America inherited has nearly always preferred adjust- 
ment and working compromises to declarations of abstract 
principles. The wealthy men had been willing to fight their 
cause on the grounds that the new laws w'ere inexpedient and 
that they would damage the business interests of England as 
well as their own, a line of argumentfin which they received the 
cordial support of the mercantile interests in London who did 
business with them, and who agreed with their point of view. 
In fact, the repeal of the various acts was due more to the 
English mercantile influence brought to bear on Parliament 
than to either the mobbing or the constitutional arguments in 
America. What the English merchants and the richer men 
in the colonies wanted above all was good business and as little 
political friction as possible.' 

On the other hand, as we have seen, there was a vast mass of 
smouldering discontent among the poorer people everywhere 
in America. The line of economic class cleavage was beginning 
to be more clearly defined, and the lower in the scale were 



AMERICA SECEDES FROM THE EMPIRE 


8i 


beginning to look to men from among their own ranks to lead 
them politically. When, for example, Patrick Henry tried 
to secure the passage of his Stamp Act resolutions in the 
Virginia House of Burgesses, he was unanimously backed by 
the poor electors, whereas he had to overcome the almost solid 
resistance of the rich. However, the greatest master in manipu- 
lating the masses whom America has ever seen, except possibly 
Bryan, arose in Boston. Opinions will always differ regarding 
Samuel Adams, but there can be no difference of opinion as to 
his consummate ability as a plotter of revolution. In all else 
he was a failure throughout his life. Before the years in which 
his manipulation of the inflammable material among the public 
was to give him a lasting place in American history, he had 
failed in law and business and public office. In after years, 
when constructive work had to be done in Congress in con- 
stitution making or as governor of his new State, he played 
a wholly insignificant part. He could tear down, but not build 
up. He was a fanatic, as most men are who change history, 
and with a fanatical hatred of England he strove to break all 
ties with her. Had he lived a century earlier he would have 
been one of the stern Puritan leaders of the type of Endicott, 
unyielding, persecuting, convinced to the very marrow of his 
bones of the infallibility of his own beliefs. But although he 
was a Puritan of the Puritans, the times had changed. They 
had become political, and* in Adams’s mind England and her 
rule had become the principle of evil in the lives of the people 
of God, to be fought day and night and with every weapon in 
his arsenal. Even when others had no wish to secede from the 
empire, but merely to be left in peace or to have certain 
inimical laws repealed, Adams early conceived the belief that 
the one end to work for «was immediate and complete inde- 
pendence. 

As he surveyed the field of public opinion in which he would 
have to operate, he saw clearly the two classes of rich and poor 
and realized that their interests were different. The rich were 
conservative, the poor radical ; the rich were desirous of as 
little change as possible, the poor clamored for any change that 


82 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


would better their condition; the rich would be influenced 
mainly by arguments of compromise and expediency, the poor 
by appeals to their rights for a greater share in the political and 
economic life of their communities. If these two classes could 
be brought to work together, public opinion would be a unit, 
but if they could not, then the greater reliance must be placed 
on the poorer classes, who constituted the overwhelming mass 
of the population and who could more readily be stirred to 
anger and radical action. From about 1761 until independence 
was declared by the colonies in 1776, Adams worked ceaselessly 
for the cause to which he had devoted his life, manipulating 
newspapers and town meetings, organizing committees of cor- 
respondence throughout the colonies, even bringing about 
happenings which would inflame public opinion. At one 
period it looked as though his efforts would be in vain, but in 
the end the stupidity of the British government won the day 
for him. 

It is a great mistake to think of public opinion as united 
in the colonies and as gradually rising against British tyranny. 
Public opinion is never wholly united, and seldom rises to a 
pitch of passion without being influenced — in other words, 
without the use of propaganda. The Great War taught that 
to those who did not know it already. 

The years preceding the fkial secession of the colonies may 
be divided into three periods. Dhring the first, from the 
passage of the Sugar Act to the practical repeal of all obnoxious 
legislation in 1770, the different groups were by force of circum- 
stances united in opposition to the policy of England. The 
merchants needed no propaganda to realize that their business 
was being seriously interfered with, though they cared little 
about the popular catchwords tha^ were being used by the 
new leaders of the people to inflame them. The Stamp Act, 
however, with its threat ofinternal taxation, did, during its 
one brief year of life, bring the whole problem for a while from 
the realm of mere business to that of constitutional questioning. 
But by 1770 the merchants* grievances were settled, and from 
then until 1773 all desire for agitation and "rocking the boat” 



AMERICA SECEDES FROM THE EMPIRE 83 

disappeared among the richer classes. Up to that point, the 
popular anger had served their own cause. For the next three 
years their cause was peace, and popular agitation and attacks 
on England became a menace and not a help to them. 

From the first, Adams and those working with him had 
realized the necessity of democratic slogans in the creation of 
a state of mind. While the merchants were busy pointing out 
to their London correspondents that the new laws would hurt 
the business of all alike, Adams at once struck boldly out to 
inflame the passions of the crowd by threatening that it was 
to be reduced to the “miserable state of tributary slaves,” 
contrasting its freedom and moral virtue with the tyranny and 
moral degradation of England. He proclaimed that the mother 
country was bent on bringing her colonies to a condition of 
“slavery, poverty and misery,” and on causing their utter ruin, 
and dinned into the ears of the people the words “slavery and 
tyranny” until they assumed a reality from mere reiteration. 
His political philosophy was eagerly lapped up by a populace 
smarting under hard times and resentful of colonial even more 
than imperial conditions of the moment. The establishment 
of government by free consent of all had become imbedded in 
the mind of the average man, as an essential part of the Ameri- 
can dream. Adams himself had seen the vision, but had 
glimpsed it with the narrowness and bitterness with which the 
more bigoted Puritans had seen the vision of an unloving and 
revengeful Hebrew Jehovah. Like them he felt that he alone, 
and those who believed as he did, were in possession of the 
truth, and that those who differed from him were enemies of 
truth and God. Because, however, the American dream had so 
deeply affected the hopes and aspirations of the common men, 
the more radical among them, in town and on frontier, echoed 
with wild enthusiasm such pronouncements of Adams as that 
“the natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior 
power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative 
authority of man, but only to have the law of nature for his 
rule.” 

Such talk as this could only make England fearful of how far 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


84 

the people might try to put such precepts into practice. The 
upper classes in the colonies also began to be uneasy. Up to 
177O5 when their own grievances were redressed, they might 
allow such ideas to be disseminated, considering themselves in 
control of the situation, but after that it became clear that they 
were losing control. Whereas such men as John Hancock and 
John Adams wanted quiet, and retired from public affairs to the 
management of their own, Sam ildams and the lesser radicals 
worked harder than ever to keep public opinion inflamed. 

With the upper classes become lukewarm or hostile to his 
continued propaganda, with the obnoxious legislation repealed 
or modified, he had to trust to generalizations and emotional 
appeals. A good example of his use of the latter was the affair 
called the “ Boston Massacre.” As part of the general imperial 
policy following the war, the British government had stationed 
some regiments in Boston. They were under good officers and 
good discipline, and there was no more reason why they should 
have made trouble there than in any provincial garrison town of 
England. Adams, however, was continually stirring up the 
public mind against them ; John Adams reported finding him 
one Sunday night “preparing for the next day’s newspaper — 
a curious employment, cooking up paragraphs, articles, occur- 
rences, etc., working the political engine.” Finally, one March 
evening, as a result of mart than usual provocation given by 
taunting boys to soldiers on duty, an unfortunate clash oc- 
curred. There was confusion, a rioter’s shout to “fire” was 
mistaken for an officer’s command, and several citizens were 
killed. The officer surrendered to the civil authorities, was 
tried, defended by John Adams and Josiah Quincy, Jr., and 
acquitted- But Samuel Adams at once saw the value of the 
incident. Every emotion of the nmb was played upon. The 
affair was termed a “massacre,” and in the annual speeches 
given for a number of yeafs to commemorate its anniversary 
the boys and men who had taken part in the mobbing were 
described as martyrs to liberty and the soldiers as “bloody 
butchers,” Although there is no recorded instance of a soldier 
having offered the slightest affront to any Boston girl, orators 


AMERICA SECEDES FROM THE EMPIRE 85 




ranted about “our beauteous virgins exposed to all the inso- 
lence of unbridled passion — our virtuous wives, endeared to 
us by every tender tie, falling a sacrifice to worse than brutal 
violence, and perhaps, like the famed Lucretia, distracted with 
anguish and despair, ending their wretched lives by their own 
fair hands.” At the request of the citizens the troops were 
removed from the city, but such talk, which served its intended 
purpose, was kept up for years after. The incident was 
unimportant in itself, and its chief interest is in how the 
radicals, after having provoked it, made use of it. 

America was, indeed, more or less in ferment, quite aside 
from the question of Anglo-American relations. Pennsylvania 
was almost on the verge of civil war, feeling having become ex- 
tremely embittered between the older and newer sections of the 
colony. The rich seaboard counties had not only been unwilling 
to help protect the frontier in the late war, but were controlling 
all the political machinery for their own benefit, the sixteen thou- 
sand voters in the three eastern counties having twice as many 
members of the Assembly as the fifteen thousand in the five 
western counties. To some extent the mechanics in Phila- 
delphia were making common cause with the frontiersmen 
against the moneyed class. In Virginia, there was similar 
feeling between classes and sections, the tidewater counties 
controlling the much more populous frontier ones. In North 
Carolina, civil war did actually break out after several years of 
agitation, and the frontiersmen set up their own organization 
of “Regulators” to prevent, among other things, the collection 
of taxes by the men of the eastern counties who controlled the 
legislature and graft of the colony, and who succeeded in putting 
down the insurrection only after three years’ effort ending in 
a bloody campaign in 1722. 

The Seven Years’ War had left society disorganized and 
unstable. The rich, from 1764 to 1770, had their grievances 
against England, grievances that were real and deep, but they 
were also beginning to watch with alarm the rise of radical 
sentiment among their own people. Everywhere thoughtful, 
farseeing men were thinking — thinking of the constitutional 


86 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


relations with the mother country which had permitted so 
serious a crisis to arise as that from which they believed they 
had just happily emerged; thinking also of the problems of 
government in the colonies and of what might be in store for 
conservatism and wealth if the people, by continuing to press 
their demands for greater share in ruling themselves, should 
oust their old leaders who had been used to being in control. 
The more they pondered the Anglo-American constitutional 
relation, however, the more it became apparent that if the 
question should ever have to be forced to an issue, the only 
ground to take would be the broad one of the rights of man as 
man. Sam Adams was right in that. They had tried to argue 
from charter rights, and soon found that ground too narrow. 
Their rights as Englishmen afforded a wider scope, but argu- 
ment thence tended toward a bog of legalistic confusion. If 
Parliament should try inimical legislation again, and if a 
situation should arise calling for a denial of its power to legis- 
late, the broadest rights of man would be none too broad to 
provide standing room for argument. But this would play 
right into the hands of the discontented populace, who were 
already getting too obstreperous, demanding new rights, ask- 
ing more representation, refusing to pay taxes, getting a bit 
too much into the habit of backing up their demands by mob- 
bing, even plunging a colony ijke North Carolina into civil war. 
It was all bad for business, thought tihe rich, and holding back 
the development of the country. However, the quarrel with 
England was made up for the present, English merchants had 
seen the light. Perhaps, with better times in .■\merica, these 
agitations on the frontiers and by the lower classes in the big 
towns would die down, if only men like Sam Adams would 
know when to stop and would quit throwing oil on the flames. 
The rich determined to sit on the lid, and carry out a policy of 
business and politics as usual Sam Adams and his group also 
continued their agitation as usual 
For three years, from 1770, in spite of constant discussion in 
pamphlets and newspapers and declaimings by radicals, things 
seemed to be getting better. The frontiersmen and town 



AMERICA SECEDES FROM THE EMPIRE 87 

radicals were doing a lot of talking, but getting nowhere. The 
Regulators’ insurrection had been put down. Then suddenly 
the British government made a colossal blunder which could 
never be retrieved. Sam Adams saw to that. 

The East India Company had accumulated a huge and partly 
unsalable store of tea, and was on the brink of bankruptcy. 
In order to prevent the catastrophe, which would have been 
a financial one of the first magnitude, the British government, 
with perfectly good intentions from an English point of view, 
but with an ignorance and a carelessness which are beyond 
condonation, gave the India Company what was practically 
a monopoly of selling tea in America. By the elimination of 
the American merchants as middlemen, the price of tea to the 
American consumer was expected to be cut in half ; but con- 
sidering the delicacy of Anglo-American relations, and the fact 
that the American merchant and business class was the chief 
reliance of England in America, to have struck a blow at it in 
favor of an English business concern revealed in a flash both 
the stupidity of the men in power with whom Americans had to 
deal and the unthinking selfishness of English policy with 
regard to the colonies. The fat was in the fire now with 
a vengeance. For three years the conservatives had been 
trying to maintain good relations with England and at the same 
time to combat what they considered the dangerous rising tide 
of radicalism in their own colonies. Now they were forced 
once more into opposition to England and so into unwilling 
alignment with the radicals. 

The rest of the story is well-known by every schoolboy — 
how the tea was shipped over and refused admittance at every 
port ; how Adams’s followers in Boston raided the tea ship and 
threw fifty thousand dollars’ Worth of tea into the waters of the 
harbor; how Parliament, when it heard of the deed, passed 
acts closing the port to commerce except in food, until the tea 
should be paid for, voiding the Massachusetts charter, and 
placing the colony under the immediate control of the Crown, 
ordering that British officers or soldiers should be tried only 
in England (or in a colony other than Massachusetts) for 



88 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


anything done in the line of duty, and providing that troops 
should be quartered again in the colonies. “The die is cast,” 
wrote George III to Lord North; “the colonies must either 
triumph or submit.” 

It is possible that a peaceful solution might have been found 
when the dull wits of the British Cabinet had become aware of 
the extent of feeling aroused in America, and of the fact that 
they had forced the whole population into a united front. But 
this would have been possible only had the tea not been 
destroyed, an act that many loyal Americans condemned. 
Adams had seized his chance. Fifty thousand dollars’ worth 
of British private property destroyed and indemnity refused; 
Parliament would have to retaliate. If the retaliation should 
be heavy enough, the door might be closed to peaceful settle- 
ment. The retaliation came, swift and crushing, and the 
colonies were aflame with sympathy for Massachusetts. In 
the next three years the progress of events was inevitable in its 
sequence, given all the factors involved. The petitions and 
their rejections, the calling of Congress, the bloodshed at 
Lexington and Concord, the final Declaration of Independence 
in 1776, and the military events of the struggle are too familiar 
to need retelling. 

What concern us more particularly are the abiding influ- 
ences upon American character and thought. 

We have already seen how the wilderness and the colonists’ 
need of erecting governments for themselves had given a con- 
siderable spur to the spread of democracy and the belief in 
government only by the consent of the governed. The colonies, 
however, had been far from democratic, and with the accumu- 
lation of wealth had been growing less so. Belief was still 
general among the upper classes tha| political power should 
rest in the hands of the well-born or the rich, who had knowl- 
edge, experience, and a property stake in the community. 
Many of the poorer classes, especially as we look further to the 
south from New England and out on any part of the frontiers, 
were shiftless, illiterate, rather lawless. To increase the 
political power of such people seemed to the conservatives like 



AMERICA SECEDES FROM THE EMPIRE 89 


inviting anarchy and the spoliation of property. On the other 
hand, during the gradual shift in the grounds for arguing the 
constitutional relations toward Parliament, it had been found 
necessary to base the argument at last squarely on the rights 
of man. “ When, in the course of human events,” in the words 
of the great Virginian, it became necessary to inform the world 
why they were taking up arms against England, the signers of 
the Declaration had to announce the theory of these rights to 
all mankind — mankind including their own “lower classes” 
at home in America. “We hold these truths to be self- 
evident,” wrote Jefferson in words which rang through the 
continent, “that all men are created equal; that they are 
endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights ; that 
among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 
That, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among 
men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the gov- 
erned ; that, whenever any form of government becomes 
destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or 
to abolish it.” 

Nothing here about the rich or the well-born ; and, as Sam 
Adams said, the people recognized “the resolution as though it 
were a decree promulgated from heaven.” The upper classes 
were thinking of their independence as against the exercise 
of legislative power by ParliartiCnt. The lower classes were 
thinking not only of that* but of their relations to their colonial 
legislatures and governing class. “No taxation without 
representation.” If that were true as between England and 
America, why not also as between poor Western frontier 
counties and rich Eastern seaboard ones, as between the town 
mechanic and the town merchant, as between the laborer and 
the planter ? « 

If, as the King had said, the die was cast in imperial relations, 
so had it also been in American political philosophy. For 
a dozen years, men like Adams had been dinning this idea of 
the rights of man as man into the ears of the people. The 
conservatives had first been of the party, then fallen off, then 
again had to join it, and now at last the voice of united America 


90 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


in Congress had announced to the world the political equality 
of all men as the creed of the continent. The dam had been 
dynamited. After the announcement that all men are created 
equal, that all men have rights, that all men may revolt against 
conditions, there could be no turning back. The quarter of 
a century from the beginning of active agitation against Eng- 
land until the adoption of the Federal Constitution afforded 
an incomparable schooling in political discussion and training 
for an entire people, and for the burning into their minds and 
hearts of the democratic dogma. 

There was another aspect of the Revolution which used to 
receive but scant attention. If, on the one hand, the radical 
thought of the nation received the intensification noted 
above, on the other, the conservative body of thought in many 
sections was greatly weakened. It might be all very well for 
men like Sam Adams and Patrick Henry to declaim against 
tyranny, but I have not been able to find anywhere in their 
writings, or even in those of sounder thinkers such as John 
Adams, a serious effort to appraise the difficulties of a struggle 
against the power of England. To conservative men, these 
might rightly have seemed to be insuperable at that time. 
Colonial population and resources were advancing with rapid 
strides, and the time might come when America could defy 
England. But in point of fatt, in spite of the revolutionists, 
that time had not come as yet. America had no manufactures ; 
she depended almost wholly on overseas markets and commerce. 
Her people were not united. She had no trained troops. In 
plain truth we see now that the Revolution was only saved 
from being an abortive rebellion by two factors neither of 
which could be counted upon in 1776 — one the character of 
Washington, and the other the marshaling against England 
of Epropean powers. 

The people at large might 'shout for the rights of man and 
tear down statues of George HI, but fighting through seven 
years was a different matter. We had a population of about 
two millions, with supposedly three hundred thousand in the 
militia, though that meant little. Out of this population 



AMERICA SECEDES FROM THE EMPIRE 91 

Washington was never able to raise an army of twenty-five 
thousand men at any one time and never had more than 
eighteen thousand in any one battle. By the end of the war 
his whole army was six thousand, and even his indomitable 
will and courage admitted that “we are at the end of our 
tether” unless France should quickly send additional funds. 
After the capture of Burgoyne’s army in 1777, France, for 
purely selfish reasons, to strike a blow at England when it was 
reasonably safe to do so (a policy which long hung in diplomatic 
balance and which could not be counted upon in 1776), had 
become our ally. When the war was finally won, it was not by 
the “embattled farmers” of Sam Adams’s colony, but by the 
fleets of that ally against the British far from our shores. 
Yorktown was the mere acknowledgment of a fait accompli 
elsewhere. 

In 1776 the agitator, the mechanic, the small farmer, the 
man on his clearing in the woods, with limited knowledge, 
experience, and outlook, might well give these matters no 
consideration, but the conservative merchant and professional 
man saw them more clearly. England was, indeed, governing 
very badly, showing both stupidity and selfishness ; but affairs 
had been adjusted before, and was there not a better chance of 
getting them adjusted again (so the conservative might ponder) 
than this wild scheme of revolution and civil war, with uncertain 
chance of success at the* end ? America — and this was her 
chief weakness — was far from united when it came to this 
point, even John Adams admitting that only a third of the 
people desired war. In Boston the upper class, almost without 
exception, were strongly opposed to it, and more than half the 
upper class throughout the whole colony. It was the same in 
New York, where the bqlk of the property owners were Loyal- 
ists. In Pennsylvania a majority of all the people were not 
only against war and independence in the beginning, but 
remained so throughout the struggle. In the South the wealthy 
planters were more generally in favor of the rebellion, but even 
there it was clearly seen as a local revolution as well as civil war 
against England. Landon Carter was typical of many when 



92 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


he wished to oppose British oppression, but feared almost 
equally “internal oppressions and commotions.” 

As the times became more unsettled, as free speech was 
abolished, as mobbings and burnings, destruction and con- 
fiscation of property became common, the conservatives looked 
with horror on what might be in store for the colonies even if 
they won and were given over to the rule of the people without 
the strong arm of England to maintain order. British tyranny 
plus British law and order began to seem preferable to turning 
fortunes and families over to mobs which stole and tarred and 
feathered. Secession from the empire might be a cure for the 
quarrel with England, but where would local colonial rew~ 
lution end ? We must not forget that there was threat of 
revolution as well as secession, and it is not strange if the former 
appeared the more dangerous in the eyes of a large part of the 
conservatives, who always look with fear on the breakdown of 
law and order. Considering the extreme die-hard conservatism 
of the resolutions of the “Daughters of the Revolution” to-day, 
it seems impossible to avoid the conclusion that very few of 
them would have been Mothers of the Revolution in 1776, when 
revolution meant riding the whirlwind of social disorder. 

There was, also, even yet much genuine affection for Eng- 
land, still called “home” ; and at least a third of the people, to 
cite John Adams again, were opposed to separating from her. 
Only in the years preceding the Civil W ar was there ever to be 
once more such searchings of hearts as to where one’s loyalty 
was due. However, the die was cast; singly, or in large 
groups, Tories, or Loyalists, left the country, exiled or volun- 
tarily seeking refuge. The bulk of the poorer ones remained, 
suffering socially and economically; but from eighty to a hun- 
dred thousand left their native colqnies. Representing, as 
a large part of these did, the wealth, culture, and conservative 
thought of their local communities, the loss was immense. 
A few eventually returned, but broken in estate and influence, 
for during the war fifteen million dollars’ worth of Tory 
property, at the very lowest estimate, was confiscated. 

The new Ship of State, with sails spread wide to democratic 



AMERICA SECEDES FROM THE EMPIRE 93 


winds, thus threw overboard a considerable part of its ballast 
of conservatism and culture, for the people who left had to a 
great extent been the most distinguished and looked-up-to in 
their small communities. The only exodus which can be com- 
pared to this in modern historical times is that of the Huguenots 
from France. How much was lost may be inferred indirectly 
from the fact that the South, where the better class remained to 
a much greater extent than in New England and the Middle 
Colonies, was to furnish, during the two generations following 
the war, a far greater proportion of national leaders than the 
North. The “Virginia Dynasty” of presidents and states- 
men may not be unconnected with the exodus from Massa- 
chusetts and elsewhere of several thousands of families who 
had been prominent in the public affairs of their colonies, many 
from their founding. 

At last the war was over and won, and peace was made in 
1783. The secession of the colonies from the empire, and the 
existence of the United States of America were recognized by 
England, as they already had been by France and Holland. 
In the course of a long national existence or a long history as 
a people, many wars may be fought and injustices suffered 
without leaving lasting bitterness. But we had no long history 
as a people or existence as a nation. America had been a house 
divided against itself in the wSr, and the thirteen colonies 
remained jealous and mistrustful of each other and of any 
national government after it. A national sentiment had to be 
developed, and a glorious past improvised to begin our history 
with. The nation had been born in war, and that war would 
forever after have to be the starting point of our national 
story. It had been fought against England, with France as our 
ally. From these simple factors were born our traditional 
hostility toward England and our sentimental friendship for 
France. Years later, when a strong and united nation, we 
could fight Mexico and be friends. We could conquer Spain 
and be better friends than ever within a decade. But for 
nearly two generations after we won from England, we were 
not strong or united, and we had no past. History and 


94 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


literature are among the strongest influences to bind the 
citizens of a nation together. Our history to that point, like 
an ordered drama, led up to the bitter struggle to gain our 
independence from a harsh motherland. Our literature, or all 
of it that stirred emotion and appealed to the heart, was our 
literature of oratory, of which the one theme was the tyranny 
of England, written in the heat of passion. In the process of 
creating a national sentiment, these orations were to be heard 
in every schoolhouse in the land, generation after generation. 
Each child at his most impressionable age was to be nourished 
on abhorrence of the British tyrant, and in his own small shrill 
voice hurl in sonorous periods his defiance to England across 
the sea. This was another legacy of those years. 

Independence, however, had been won, and that fact was to 
be marvelously potent in altering the mind and character of 
the people. In every colony they had long been accustomed 
to assert, as far as possible, their own will whenever it might 
conflict with the instructions of the royal governors or the 
legislation of Parliament. But now nothing, so it seemed, 
stood in the way of the complete assertion of that will in any 
direction they chose. Much the same change took place in the 
outlook of the colonists as takes place in a boy when he has left 
home and for the first time really stands on his own feet and 
looks about at the world whsch is his to wander in and con- 
quer. For good or ill there come \ release of energies and 
a rapid development of latent powers. Had England governed 
with superhuman wisdom and complete unselfishness, the 
mental outlook and temper of the American people as citizens of 
the province of a B'.uropean empire would yet have been differ- 
ent when they became citizens of an independent nation in 
a New World. Bar more important»than the mere redress of 
grievances was the breaking down of all spiritual barriers to 
the complete development of whatever might prove to be 
fertile, true, and lasting in the American dream. The forces 
and influences which were shaping it were suddenly increased 
in intensity by having the hampering connection with the Old 
World severed. As we shall see, the connection with that 



AMERICA SECEDES FROM THE EMPIRE 95 


world had been not merely political, and it was to take another 
generation to clear the way completely, but the first great step 
had been accomplished when secession became a fact. This 
was the greatest legacy of the period. 

Another was the character of Washington. In the travail 
of war and revolution, America had brought forth a man to be 
ranked with the greatest and noblest of any age in all the 
world. There have been greater generals in the field and 
statesmen in the cabinet in our own and other nations. There 
has been no greater character. When we think of Washington, 
it is not as a military leader, nor as executive or diplomat. We 
think of the man who by sheer force of character held a divided 
and disorganized country together until victory was achieved, 
and who, after peace was won, still held his disunited country- 
men by their love and respect and admiration for himself until 
a nation was welded into enduring strength and unity. 

There were great patriots in America whose names are 
inscribed in the story of that time. There were many humble 
folk whose names have faded from our histories or were never 
known outside their narrow village circle, who struggled and 
suffered from the noblest motives. But war brings out the 
worst as well as the best in men. It is a mistake to think of 
the America of 1776-1783 as a nation of patriots pressing their 
services to gain their freedom. It was hard to get men into the 
army, and to keep them there. Often Washington had neither 
money nor food nor clothing to offer them. But he always had 
an army, pitifully small as it was at times, which held the flag 
flying in the field through love of him and confidence in the 
character which they sensed in his dignified presence. Withou t 
him the cause would have been irretrievably lost, and the 
thunder of the orators would have rumbled long since into for- 
getful silence. When the days were blackest, men clung to his 
unfaltering courage as to the last*firm ground in a rising flood. 
When, later, the forces of disunion in the new country seemed 
to threaten disruption, men again rallied to him as the sole 
bond of union. Legacy to America from these troubled years, 
he is, apart from independence itself, the noblest heritage of all. 




THE NATION FINDS ITSELF 

Independence had been acknowledged by the world, but the 
young nation was weak. Indeed, there scarcely was a nation, 
for the Confederation which bound together the old colonies, 
now become sovereign States, had neither the reality nor the 
semblance of power. Practically there was no central govern- 
ment, merely the empty shell of a loose union. Apart from 
the lack of political cohesion, the whole social and economic 
life of the people at large had been severely shaken. War, as 
we have said, profoundly alters life, and the colonies had had 
scarcely a dozen years to readjust themselves after the end of 
the Seven Years’ War when this new one had broken on them, 
while the intervening period had been^one of constant agitation 
and much disorder. The slaves in the South had been but 
little affected. Submerged at the bottom of society, the storm 
waves had passed over them without being felt. Dependent 
upon their masters and not upon their own exertions, they 
worked, ate, and slept their existence away as usual. Apart 
from them, however, there was no one, rich or poor, whose 


THE NATION FINDS ITSELF 


97 


existence had not been deeply influenced, although the actual 
loss of life must have been small in proportion to the popula- 
tion, and the destruction of property on land by the enemy was 
not great. The suffering came from other causes. 

In the first place, the proportion of the men who were en- 
gaged at one time or another to the total was much larger than 
the figures of those in the army at any given date would indi- 
cate. Enlistments were short, and many were in service only 
for a few months. Almost all the men in the ranks were of 
the small farmer class, without means of subsistence for their 
families other than what was produced by their own toil in the 
fields. The army pay which they received, when they received 
any at all, in the depreciated paper was of slight help to their 
wives and children, who often suffered cruelly from the absence 
of the head of the household and lack of money. There was 
no farm machinery. Farm work meant the hardest sort of 
long physical toil, and when the farmer was in the army his 
wife and children worked the fields and chopped the wood for 
winter fires. The loss of the farmer was a dire calamity for 
his family, and America was as yet 90 per cent agricultural. 
This was the chief cause of the many desertions and the refusal 
of men to reenlist when their short terms had expired. Dur- 
ing their service, they themselves were called upon to suffer 
the greatest hardships. There was no sanitary science to pro- 
tect them against disease"; the medicine chests were all too 
often empty ; food was scarce, and at times, as in the dreadful 
winter at Valley Forge, soldiers had to go unshod and half in 
rags in killing cold, their torn feet leaving bloodstains as they 
walked shoeless on the icy ground. It was not the risk of 
death in a rare encounter with the enemy that called for courage 
in those seven years, but #nxiety over the family at home, and 
the steady hardship of camp life in which almost everything 
was lacking that might have made for comfort and efficiency. 

There was the usual disorganization of the economic life that 
is the concomitant of any war on a large scale, emphasized by 
the complete demoralization of the monetary system. Like 
the paper mark of Germany a decade ago, the paper money 


98 


THE, EPIC OF AMERICA 


of the United States declined to zero, and the phrase “not worth 
a Continental” was so impressed upon the people that, unlike 
the money to which it referred, it gained a lasting circulation. 
By 1780, gold stood at a premium of 4G00 per cent. All the 
evils of inflation and depreciation were present. Prices, both 
of commodities and of labor, soared, owing to actual scarcity 
and to paper money. Profiteering was rife, and reputable mer- 
chants of high social standing took from 100 to 300 per cent 
profit. Incomes based on permanent investments in mort- 
gages and other fixed forms of interest declined to nothing. 
Captures of ships at sea the British ruined some merchants, 
while captures of the British raised others to wealth. Unscru- 
pulous contractors rose from poverty to opulence. Every- 
where new men appeared to replace those whose fortunes had 
been lost. In the year of peace, James Bowdoin of Boston 
wrote to ex-Governor Pownall, “When you come you will see 
scarcely other than new faces. The change which in that re- 
spect has happened within the few years since the revolution 
is as remarkable as the revolution itself.” 

If the personnel of the richer class had been turned topsy- 
turvy, the suffering of the poorer was extreme. The State 
debts had grown to staggering proportions and taxation had 
been so devised as to bear most heavily on the poor, the poll 
tax in Massachusetts, for example, accounting for one third 
of the total sum raised ! By 1786 the debt of that State, with 
her share of the Continental debt, had risen to over £3,200,000, 
a sum even the interest on which was not being raised. Farm 
lands were taxed at so much the acre, regardless of their value, 
and the poorer farmers were being sold out for taxes they could 
not possibly pay. To a considerable extent the same condi- 
tions were found elsewhere with variations. Moreover, the 
rapidly accumulated wealth of the new rich, and the seemingly 
high prices paid for labor, wkh the general recklessness always 
engendered by war, had brought about wild extravagance on 
the part of many. As usual, when the war was over, there 
were a couple of years of hectic but spotty prosperity, and then 
the crash came, to be followed by a period of wild speculation 



99 


THE NATION FIND5 ITSELF 

which ended with our first great panic. Discontent was rife, 
and an exodus began from the older colonies to the new western 
frontier. Ruined New England farmers and mechanics poured 
in an ever-swelling stream into western New York and Pennsyl- 
vania and on into Ohio. Southerners streamed over the moun- 
tains to Kentucky and Tennessee. The wilderness was a safety 
valve, but even with that, open rebellion finally broke out in 
Massachusetts under an officer in the Revolution, Captain 
Daniel Shays, and paralyzed the courts of the State for some 
months until finally quelled. 

That, in spite of all the mobbing and violence and confisca- 
tion of Tory property, the American Revolution did not pursue 
to the bitter end the course of most revolutions, such as the 
French or Russian, was due to one simple cause. As we have 
seen, the revolutionary movement, as contrasted with the se- 
cessionist one, came almost wholly from the poorer classes. 
The normal course is that the moderates who are in control at 
first have to abdicate in favor of extremists before the end. 
In all such cases, however, there have been either large prole- 
tarian populations dependent on wages and without accumu- 
lated capital, or peasants tilling, under intolerable burdens, 
soil which they do not own. 

In America this was not so. In the slave States the slaves 
had had nothing whatever to do. with the revolution, and, as 
we have said, remained mostly untouched by it. The towns 
were small and held no proletarian class, even the laborer for 
daily wages usually owning his own small home. There was 
no peasant class in the European sense in the entire country, 
and almost every farmer, however poor and oppressed with 
debt, owned his own farm. Tory property, running from such 
vast estates as those of Governor Hutchinson of Massachu- 
setts or the Livingstons of New York down to stray bits of 
land coveted by a patriot farmer, could be expropriated, but 
there could be no expropriation of patriot landed property 
unless the townsman or farmer ran the risk of losing his own. 
There were few relics of feudalism and no hard and fast class 
distinction, such as that between a titled nobility and com- 


lOO 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


moners. One man might own fifty acres and another fifty 
thousand, but there was no sharp line anywhere between them, 
and (what has been a holding anchor in American life even 
when radicalism has been in the saddle) the man with fifty 
hoped that some day by a lucky stroke he might own a thou- 
sand. With every man a property owner and hoping to be a 
greater, there might be a revolutionary demand for political 
power, but there was little immediate danger of any overturn 
of property rights. With this condition and the safety valve 
of the empty West, the young American nation could ride out 
the storm with impunity. 

There had, however, been a thoroughgoing revolution, though 
the general economic and social structure suffered a minimum 
of alteration. The civil war of 1775 to 1783 did not end merely 
with the secession of three million and more citizens from the 
British Empire, to set up an independent State of the then ac- 
cepted model for themselves. Had that been the case they 
would have invited some scion of a royal house to rule over 
them, some William of Wied to fill a void in their Constitution. 
The exigencies of government in a wilderness had seen to that. 
The long line of simple covenants drawn up by simple men to 
meet practical situations, from the Mayflower Compact, the 
Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, through innumerable 
“church covenants” and frontier agreements, clarified by the 
years of dispute with England, had- ended in the preamble to 
the Declaration of Independence. All men are created equal ; 
all men have the same political rights; government derives 
its powers solely from the consent of the governed. 

America hoped to become a great nation- Every great 
nation then in the world was monarchical and aristocratical. 
America began as a republic and had made a long step toward 
a democracy. That was something radically new, though the 
political philosophy was not. American thinkers had nour- 
ished their minds on the great Englishmen, Sidney, Locke, 
Hobbes, and others. There was nothing novel in their theory. 
What was wholly novel was the putting of the theory into prac- 
tice, and that they owed to the American wilderness. They 



THE NATION FINDS ITSELF 


lOI 


did not need to chop off the head of their king. In the process 
of a steady chopping down of the interminable forest the need 
of a king had gone. 

At the end of the war, Washington was only the most illus- 
trious of all those who had been engaged who now returned to 
resume their peace-time life on plantation, farm, or in count- 
inghouse. One great doubt assailed them all — -would the 
experiment succeed ? In the years immediately following, 
this began to look doubtful. England was treating us with 
contempt and not carrying out the terms of the treaty of peace. 
Neither were we, and the Confederacy was too weak to force 
either England or our own people to do so. After its post-war 
burst of enthusiasm, business had a collapse. The common 
people were restive, and the rebellion in Massachusetts, which 
assumed the proportions of a civil war, gave even Washington 
a severe shock. As he said, “Government is not influence,” 
and all that the Confederation had was influence, and precious 
little of that. If within five years of gaining her independence 
America were to drift into anarchy, as she seemed to be doing, 
it would simply prove that as yet the world needed monarchy 
to secure order. The men in country taverns on. a Saturday 
night might declaim about liberty till they were hoarse or 
asleep, but if the States were to leave their debts unpaid, be- 
come a mere pack of small republics quarreling among them- 
selves until gobbled up singly by some European power, there 
would be little liberty worth declaiming about. Yet the jeal- 
ousies and the dislike of any strong central governing body 
seemed insuperable. As Washington sat on the verandah at 
Mount Vernon, sipping his toddy and looking up the beautiful 
reach of the Potomac, he had ample time to reflect on whether 
after all he had for nothiiig risked a noose for his neck and the 
confiscation of the estate that he loved above all else next to 
his country. Many others also throughout the new States were 
pondering the same problem. The situation was becoming 
intolerable. 

At last courage was found to grasp the nettle firmly, and in 
February 1787 the almost moribund Congress sent an invita- 



THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


loa 

tion to the several States to elect delegates to a convention to 
meet at Philadelphia in May for the sole purpose of revising 
the Articles of Confederation. The group of fifty-five men 
who met at the appointed time to consider the momentous 
problem of devising a Constitution for the nation was the most 
distinguished which has ever been gathered on this continent. 
The character, ability, and broad mental attainments which 
they possessed provide an amazing commentary upon the 
quality of American civilization in the eighteenth century. 
We must recall that the entire free white population of the 
States at that time was scarcely double that of the mere city 
of Los Angeles to-day. Yet out of a colonial population equiva- 
lent to twice that of Los Angeles came a George Washington, 
Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, Robert Morris, James 
Madison, Alexander Hamilton, C. C. Pinckney, John Dickin- 
son, William Paterson, Rufus King, James Wilson, and others. 
In 1931, with forty times the population and many thousand 
times the wealth of 1787, could we have forty groups of similar 
capacity sitting simultaneously now ? 

Constitution making had been a favorite sport in all the 
colonies for the preceding fifteen years. Hardly anyone felt 
inadequate to the task. One New England farmer had pro- 
duced a democratically simple one. We do not need, he wrote, 
“any Goviner but the Guviner of the univarse and under him 
a States Gineral to Consult with the wrest of the united states 
for the good of the whole.” Grotesque as this seems, it con- 
tained some of the chief kernels of public opinion — the fear 
of a strong executive and central government, and the belief 
that any government must be for “the good of the whole.” 
Although complete political democracy was not to be achieved, 
even in form, for several generations yet, the framers of the 
Constitution found themselves of necessity influenced by the 
steps already taken toward ■it, whatever their individual opin- 
ions might be. They realized, although American historians 
were for a long time to overlook it, that a revolution was in 
progress as well as a secession accomplished. As a contempo- 
rary South Carolinian wrote, “There is nothing more common 


THE NATION FINDS ITSELF 


103 


than to confound the terms of the American Revolution with 
those of the late American war. The American war is over, 
but this is far from being the case with the American Revolu- 
tion. On the contrary, nothing but the first act of the great 
drama is closed.” 

This first act had been marked for democracy by many for- 
ward steps no less genuine because not sealed by the blood of 
an uprising. Between 1776 and 1784 the situation had forced 
most of the colonies to' adopt constitutions for themselves to 
replace the old imperial governments. All but one of these, 
that of New Hampshire, had been drafted and adopted during 
the war, when radical sent ment was rampant. It had been the 
radicals who had cast the die for war in the first place, and, 
with the rise in war psychology, even good patriots came to be 
looked at askance if they appeared too conservative to“go the 
whole hog ” with their more radical neighbors. It was 
extremely easy for a patriot jury to brand a man as a Tory, 
after which confiscation of his desirable estate might follow as 
quickly as thunder on flash of lightning. We have recently 
had enough experience of the queer forms that excessive zeal 
may take in war times to understand the dangerous situation 
of conservative thought among our patriot ancestors of 1776 , 
to 1783. 

We cannot deal with all the fourteen colonial constitutions 
(counting Vermont, which had set up for itself) separately, but 
we may note what happened in the two colonies where the in- 
ternal grievances had been most acute against the rich East- 
erners before war with England had been decided upon, for 
these bring out clearly the continuity of grievance which we 
tried to point out earlier. In Pennsylvania the disgruntled 
frontiersmen and Philadelphia mechanics dealt a resounding 
thwack on the heads of the old moneyed class. All qualifi- 
cations for office holding or vofing were swept away except 
payment of a State tax. This gave the suffrage to practically 
all the mechanics and other workmen in the city. Representa- 
tion was apportioned on the basis of the number of taxables in 
each county, and this at once transferred the political control 


104 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


from the old governing group along the Delaware River to the 
Scotch and Germans in the western counties. In North Caro- 
lina a bitter fight took place between the radical and conserva- 
tive elements for the drafting of the constitution, in which the 
radicals scored a complete victory. Practically every adult 
freeman was given the franchise, and the governor was so 
stripped of power that it was said he had none left except to 
“sign a receipt for his salary.” The legislature was made all- 
powerful, and the small farmers were given control of it. 

These two States adopted the most radical of the new con- 
stitutions, but throughout practically all of them we find ad- 
vances in democratic doctrine. The famous Virginia Bill of 
Rights, which was used as the basis for most of the others, be- 
gan much as did the Declaration, with the words “all men are 
by nature equally free and independent.” In many of the 
new constitutions. Church became separated from State, and 
the slave trade was prohibited by all except Georgia. In the 
Northern States, where fifty thousand slaves were owned, 
chiefly as house servants, emancipation had become complete 
by about the end of the century even when not immediately 
provided for, as in many cases, by the new constitutions. In 
Virginia and Maryland such men as Jefferson, Madison, Mason, 
Pinckney, and Martin struggled for emancipation, but with- 
out success, and throughout the South at this time most men 
looked upon slavery as an evil, although a temporary one. 

In all the States the revolution brought about a distinct 
increase in the electorate, although the qualifications for voting 
differed. The poorer elements both in the town and in the 
frontier sections increased their influence. The basis of Ameri- 
can political democracy has been economic democracy, and 
at this time, as for long after, economic democracy meant the 
opportunity to own land. In this respect, the revolution wit- 
nessed a notable advance in two directions, the one relieving 
ownership of certain burdens, and the other increasing the 
land which could be acquired by the poorer people. Ail the 
royal prohibitions with regard to cutting timber were abolished, 
as were all quitrents everywhere, and whatever relics of feu- 


THE NATION FINDS ITSELF 


105 

dalism had remained here and there. Entail and primogeni- 
ture, without which the perpetuation of great landed, estates 
is impossible, were likewise abolished. In most States it was 
also provided that the lands of an intestate should be divided 
equally among his sons, if not all his children. Everywhere the 
Crown lands and great forfeited estates had come into posses- 
sion of the State governments, and attempts were usually made 
to sell these as small holdings. Even in that stronghold of a 
moneyed aristocracy. New York, a new law discouraged the 
sale of these lands in parcels of over five hundred acres, and 
James De Lancey’s were settled by 275 persons. In Pennsyl- 
vania the Penn family estimated their confiscated estates as 
worth one million pounds sterling. Yet more important in 
providing land for settlement and the building up of the eco- 
nomic democracy of the next fifty years was the cancellation 
of the restriction against westward emigration which had been 
embodied in the Royal Proclamation of 1763. After much 
negotiation, the claims of certain States, based upon the vague 
geographical terms in their old charters, were surrendered to 
the Confederation, which came into possession of almost all 
the land west of the mountains and up to the Mississippi. 
The one great act of statesmanship of the now expiring Con- 
gress of the old government had been the Northwest Ordinance, 
passed in 1787, for the purpose ‘of providing for the governing 
of this vast tract, which formed a possible colonial empire as 
large as the Union itself. 

Heretofore, in European thought, colonies had always occu- 
pied a position inferior to the mother country, and were sup- 
posed to be ruled and exploited for her own benefit. The 
Americans, however, had had their fill of that doctrine. They 
had smarted under it when they had been English colonials 
on the east side of the mountains, and those who hoped to settle 
on the west side of them had no Stomach to resume that status 
again, with the seaboard States instead of England as their 
rulers. There was, however, no precedent whatever for the 
solution of the problem. There was, on the other hand, the 
very serious problem of the size and future population of this 


OF AMERICA 

American empire. There was room in it to carve out more 
States than the original thirteen. “There has already been 
trouble enough. Heaven knows,” thought the conservative 
Easterners, “with all these radicals who go out on the frontiers 
and who are already upsetting everything in the old States. 
If we fill up this western country, as big as our own^ with them 
and give them a voice in our affairs, anything may happen.” 

The final solution was evidence at once of the remarkable 
political wisdom of the day and of the strong influence that the 
democratic elements possessed. The Ordinance, together with 
that of 1785, provided that the Territory should be divided into 
townships six miles square, made up of sections of 640 acres 
each. These sections were to be sold at not less than a dollar 
an acre. Temporarily the entire territory was to be governed 
as a unit by Congress, but when it had five thousand inhabit- 
ants they could elect a legislature, and, when population in- 
creased, three to five States might be created, of not less than 
sixty thousand inhabitants each, which would be admitted 
to the Union on an absolute equality with the original Eastern 
ones “in all respects whatever.” One section in every town- 
ship was reserved for public education, and slavery was for- 
ever prohibited. Simple as the solution may seem, it is one of 
the greatest and most original of the contributions of America 
to the modern world of political thought, and it provided the 
only possible way in which the United States of to-day could 
have come into being. The original Union could never have 
held the continent under imperial control, but the way was 
now open for indefinite increase in population and territory 
with equally indefinite increase in national solidarity and 
strength. If the Ordinance was a great achievement of states- 
manship, so was it a great achievement for the American de- 
mocracy. The fron tier was the seat of democracy, and now, wi th 
the opening of a new frontier of staggering size to settlement 
and eventual citizenship, it could be conceived that some day 
the conservative East might have to bow to a young, powerful, 
and aggressive West. The young Revolutionary poet, Philip 
Freneau, wrote of it in 1785 that 



THE NATION FINDS ITSELF 


107 


Forsaking kings and r^al state, 

(A debt that reason deems amiss) 

The traveller owns, convinc’d though late, 

No realm so free, so blest as this — 

The east is half to slaves consign’d. 

And half to slavery more refined. 

It was in this atmosphere of radical success — or perhaps 
we should say of evidence of. radical thought and increasing 
power — that the members of the Constitutional Convention 
in Philadelphia began their labors. However opposed some 
of them, like Hamilton, might be to trusting the people with 
power, the whole trend of events for the past fifteen years or 
more showed clearly that the common people would demand 
to a very considerable extent an embodying in the Constitu- 
tion of the political philosophy which had been their gospel 
in fighting for independence, and that they would not be denied. 
Madison at first started from the premise that government was 
to be devised by the leading minds of the Union more or less 
as a problem in vacuo without paying the slightest attention to 
the wishes of the “unreflecting multitude.” Hamilton openly 
admitted that he had no use for a republic, but that in the 
atmosphere of America nothing else could be hoped for, where- 
upon he worked for a form of government of extreme centrali- 
zation and power. Broader and more practically minded 
members perceived, however, that the Constitution was bound 
to be framed according to the dogmas of the Declaration, and 
the problem settled down to how to reconcile the rights of man 
with the safety of property. The franchise provided a severe 
test. Many, perhaps wisely, feared that to bestow it upon 
the classes without property would be to invite venality and 
spoliation. On the cthej hand, it was pointed out to them that 
many States had already provided for voting by citizens who 
did not own property and that any new constitution would be re- 
jected by them if it took away rights they had already secured. 

A precisely similar problem was that of apportionment of 
representation. Here the old conflict between tidewater and 
frontier came out clearly. Gouverneur Morris voiced the 


io8 THE EPIC OF AMERICA 

strong feeling of many of the delegates when he demanded that 
property as well as population should be taken into considera- 
tion, as otherwise, if “the Western people get the power into 
their own hands, they will ruin the Atlantic interests. The 
back members are always adverse to the best measures.” El- 
bridge Gerry, who feared the foreign elements, urged that the 
seaboard should not be placed “at the mercy of the emigrants.” 
This party, however, was confronted by the fact that the new 
States to be made in the West had already been pledged abso- 
lute equality with the old, and the more liberal opinion won. 
Both these contests show the immense importance of what the 
radicals had already gained. On every hand the delegates were 
confronted not by theoretical problems but by accomplished 
facts. There were gloomy prognostications of what the future 
might bring when possibly agriculture had yielded place to 
manufactures, and the cities might be filled with a floating 
and propertyless population of mechanics. Nevertheless, the 
people had already gained power, and, as Colonel Mason 
pointed out, “those who have power in their hands will not 
give it up while they can retain it.” Hamilton found that 
while “he had been praised by everybody, he had been sup- 
ported by none.” In the Constitution no qualification was 
mentioned for the sulFrage, and representation was based solely 
on population, with the exception that in the Senate it should 
be limited to two Senators from each State regardless of num- 
bers, a compromise essential to win the adherence of the smaller 
of the older commonwealths, and one destined to perpetuate 
and emphasize the question of States’ rights. In some respects 
the new government was a federal republic made up of sov- 
ereign States, but in others it rested directly upon the people 
themselves. Just as the State governments derived their 
powers directly from the electorate, so also did the new Federal 
one derive its directly from the individual voter and not indi- 
rectly through the State governments. In this respect it was 
an entirely new departure in the theory of government. 

After more than three months’ deliberation the document was 
complete, the first written Constitution offered to any nation, 



THE NATION FINDS ITSELF 


109 


following in this the precedents set by the several States. It 
gave no special privileges to any one class or interest, nor did 
it lodge power in any of them. Unrestricted suffrage, repre- 
sentation based on numbers, and the parity promised to the 
new States to arise on the frontier, assured as far as any con- 
stitution could the growth of economic and political equality. 
In the course of a century and a half, the Constitution has been 
greatly developed by interpretation through judicial decisions, 
but as it stood in 1787 it was considered extremely democratic. 

There was, however, much in it that ran counter to the wishes 
of many. The prohibition against the issue of paper money 
and of laws impairing the obligations of contracts could be 
counted on to be opposed strenuously by the whole debtor 
class. Moreover, national sentiment was still weak as con- 
trasted with State loyalty, and many powers had been taken 
from the States and given to the central government. The for- 
bidding of the States to levy any import or export duties was to 
make the United States within itself the greatest free-trade 
area in the world eventually, and greatly to increase the possi- 
bilities of national prosperity, the scale of American business, 
and to intensify national solidarity, but it seemed a menacing 
encroachment in 1787. 

The decision was reached, in accordance with the theory of 
the Declaration of Independence, to submit the instrument 
directly to the people for ratification, and in every State con- 
ventions were elected to consider it. Never before or since, 
perhaps, has an entire people been so well prepared to discuss 
so momentous an issue. The years of controversy with Eng- 
land preceding the war, and the erection of all the State gov- 
ernments during it, had for twenty-five years kept the public 
mind centred on constitutional problems. Extremely adroit 
management, not to say in some cases even political chicanery, 
was needed before ratification was secured from the first nine 
States, which had been the number required to put the Con- 
stitution into force, but on the other hand the public discus- 
sion was maintained on a very high level. The innumerable 
pamphlets and newspaper articles, of which those gathered 



no 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


in The Federalist were merely the most notable, called for a 
concentration of thought that could hardly be counted upon 
to-day in a decision by the people at large. At last nine States 
ratified ; the new Constitution was declared in force ; and 
subsequently the other States adhered to it. The old Congress 
notified the people that their new government would enter upon 
its duties on March 4, 1789, and then ended its own existence. 

We Americans may well take a legitimate pride in the ex- 
traordinary accomplishment of those do2en years, for no other 
nation has ever given in a similar period such an impetus to 
political thought through practical statesmanship. Many of 
the ideas were not new, but they had hitherto been for the most 
part held by closet philosophers. America had proclaimed 
them as a gospel for all mankind and as a working political 
programme for a nation. In the Declaration of Independence, 
made good by war, the gospel of equality, of natural rights, and 
of government by consent of the governed, had attained an 
influence and an authenticity that no mere philosopher could 
secure for it. In the Northwest Ordinance we had shown how 
colonial status could be transformed into national citizenship 
for an expanding empire. In the Constitution we had shown 
how a Federal government could respect the sovereignty of its 
States and yet derive its sanction and power directly from the 
body of the people. In the ddvice of a Constitutional Conven- 
tion we had pointed out a peaceful way for any nation to alter 
its fundamental law and institutions. We had also showed 
that a revolution could be held within bounds if the people at 
large enjoyed a reasonable degree of economic opportunity. 

The new government, however, was weak and untried. The 
Constitution had been ratified in many States by the narrowest 
of margins, and even if a majority of trfie people approved of it, 
the opposing minority was nearly as large. Fortunately the 
party system in politics had not yet come into being, the only 
“parties” having been those who were in favor of or opposed to 
ratification, called Federalists and Anti-Federalists. The 
young government was thus saved a party contest and a parti- 
san president. It was fortunate that there was one man in the 



Ill 


THE NATION FINDS ITSELF 

country to whom all eyes instinctively turned. Washington 
was not elected President by the glamour of a successful career 
as general, as has happened since, disastrously. Just as in the 
war it had not been his military genius but his character that 
won for him the adoration of his men and of the nation, so 
now it was his character to which they clung again in the crisis 
of steering the new Ship of State through the shoals and out 
' on the high seas. ' 

There was as yet no government organization or policy. 
There were no olSceholders, no clearly outlined duties, no de- 
partments, no precedents, no money on hand. There were the 
mefe piece of paper called the Constitution of the United States 
of America, a divided people, huge debts, a worthless currency, 
and George Washington to give stability to it all, if possible. 

For his two chief advisers he chose Thomas Jefferson, as 
Secretary of State, and Alexander Hamilton, as Secretary of 
the Treasury. 

The two men were utterly different from each other in almost 
every respect, yet oddly enough no other pair opposed to one 
another have ever in our history influenced so permanently, 
both of them, our thought and practice as a nation. Hamil- 
ton, a West Indian boy, probably of illegitimate descent, had 
landed in New York with his fortune to make. A lawyer, with 
an extraordinarily brilliant mind and attractive personality, 
he won his way, married into a wealthy family, and became a 
leading figure in the State. Jefferson had been born on the 
Virginia frontier. Hamilton, living his life among the moneyed 
class in New York, with its intensely corrupt politics, had no 
belief whatever in the capacity of the common man to govern 
himself or others. Jefferson, influenced by the French phi- 
losophers to some extent, and living among the yeomanry of 
one of the best frontier sections of the country, had complete 
faith in the ordinary citizen, so ‘long, at least, as the nation 
might remain agricultural. Hamilton was a realist in politics, 
Jefferson an idealist, although he proved a better party leader 
and organizer than his opponent. Hamilton believed in a 
strongly centralized government, deriving its main support 



II2 


THE EPIC OF 

V 

from the moneyed class. Jefferson believed in government 
performing the minimum of functions, in decentralization, 
and in reliance upon the farmers. Hamilton was the acknowl- 
edged leader of the Federalist Party. J efferson, who had been 
in France for some years as our representative in Paris, re- 
turned to assume office without party. At first the two men 
succeeded in working together in the cabinet in moderate har- 
mony, but their philosophies were too antagonistic, and it was 
not long before the inevitable dislike and mutual lack of con- 
fidence began to show itself. Hamilton stood for strength, 
wealth, and power; Jefferson for the American dream. 

To some extent the quarrel became sectional. There had 
long been a certain amount of friction between the growing 
mercantilism of the North and the planter class in the South. 
Hamilton’s first task was to establish the credit of the new na- 
tion, and for this purpose he deemed it essential to pay off the 
federal foreign and greatly depreciated domestic debts at par, 
and also to assume the State debts. He likewise wished to 
build up as rapidly as possible a moneyed class from banking, 
shipping, manufacturing, and other industries as a support to 
the government. He 'advocated a national bank and a pro- 
tective tariff, and saw no reason why the South as well as the 
North should not develop an^industrial and financial life. In 
fact, however, it had not done so, and although the future of 
both agriculture and slavery was doubtful, an event happened 
the very year after Hamilton offered his Report on Manufac- 
tures to Congress which determined the course of the South 
for a century. 

Agriculture in that section had been rather going from bad to 
worse. The planters had long been in debt, slave labor was 
wasteful, though the only labor avaifable, and the future was 
distinctly uncertain. The old crops of rice, indigo, and to- 
bacco were no longer as profifable as they had been, and it did 
not seem possible to raise cotton, as it took a slave a month to 
get the seeds out of one bale. A few experiments had been 
made, but so impractical was American cotton culture con- 
sidered that in 1784 the Custom House in England seized eight 



bales on the ground that they “could not have been produced 
in America.” The demand had become enormous, and the 
world production in 1791 was 490,000,000 pounds, of which 
only 138,000 were produced in the United States. The next 
year Eli Whitney, a young Massachusetts lad on a visit to 
Georgia, invented the cotton gin, which would clean a thousand 
pounds in the time it took a slave to clean only five. In 1793 
the South raised 487,000 pounds, 1,600,000 the next year, 
6,276,000 the next, and 35,000,000 in 1800. Cotton had be- 
come king, and the slave doomed to his slavery. The type 
of Southern culture was thus fixed until almost our own day. 

Simultaneously with the sudden rise of the Cotton Kingdom 
in the South, Samuel Slater, a cotton-mill operative from Eng- 
land, was in Rhode Island trying to remember how the textile 
machinery which he had tended in the old country had been 
built, for England prohibited the export of any of the machines 
lest the industry might be set up elsewhere. Slater was suc- 
cessful, machines were built here, and the foundations laid 
for the growth of the New England textile mills. Great as the 
differences between the sections had already been, they were 
to be increasingly emphasized during the next half century. 

If America was to be happiest as a great industrial nation, 
Hamilton’s policies were wise and essential. The forces which 
have made the industrial United^States of to-day stem directly 
from the Hamiltonian principles. On the other hand, in creat- 
ing special privileges for certain classes, as in the tariff, in build- 
ing up a moneyed class whose interests would be distinct from, 
if not inimical to, those of the agricultural and laboring ones, 
Hamilton’s economic and political doctrines assuredly did 
not derive from the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson, 
who had penned that document; the farmers, who wanted to 
buy manufactured goods as cheap as possible ; the debtors of 
all classes; the men of the frontier, who wanted as little in- 
terference from government as might be — all who believed in 
the American dream were antagonized by this wizard in the 
Treasury who, it seemed to them, was threatening to raise 
up an engine of despotism and to sink them in the scale as con- 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


1 14 

trasted with his privileged moneyed men and speculators in 
securities. 

Meanwhile, a new section, to be of vast importance within 
a few years, was arising over the mountains — a new frontier 
to be followed successively by others for a century. In all of 
these the ideas of Jefferson and the Declaration were to find 
their strongest refuge and supporters. It was, in truth, the 
size of the country that was to save it for democracy. For 
better or worse, the United States of to-day was cradled in the 
Mississippi Valley. As I have pointed out before, had the 
Pacific Ocean washed the western slopes of the Alleghanies, 
the type of civilization would probably have continued along 
the lines of eighteenth-century European culture which had so 
successfully sprung up in the colonies by the period of the war. 
How fine the fruit of that culture was to prove we have seen in 
this present chapter, but it was not to be the American type. 
What was new in the American of that period was chiefly owing 
to the wilderness, but had the wilderness ended at the moun- 
tains, the frontier would have ceased to be an influence, for 
the land was fast filling up. If the frontier had been closed in 
1790 instead of 1890, an entire century of an irresistibly power- 
ful moulding force would have been lost. By 1800, the North 
Atlantic seaboard was getting started on its way toward an 
industrial future. The South'"had been definitively started on 
its career as a great agricultural area based on the economics 
of slavery. Neither of these would have produced what we 
think of as the typical American mind and character of to-day. 
If we, as Americans, boast too much of our size, it is neverthe- 
less true that that size has shaped us to what we are. 

As we have seen, the population had already begun to spill 
over the mountains before the Revolution, but after independ- 
ence was won, the trickling streams became a flood. In 1788 
nearly a thousand boats, containing over 18,000 men, women, 
and children, carried settlers down the Ohio. Emigrants were 
largely from New England, and indeed the section known as 
the “Western Reserve'* became a sort of second New England, 
with its town meetings and general type of New England life. 


THE NATION FINDS ITSELF 


IIS 

Other settlers, however, were also pouring through passes over 
the mountains from the South, and by 1790 there were at least 
170,000 inhabitants in the Western country. Kentucky was 
admitted as a State in 1791 and Tennessee five years later, 
both with manhood suffrage for all males over twenty-one, 
though Kentucky later qualified this by “white.” 

If ever men were free, these were. The seaboard colonists 
had not only had their charters, royal governors, and other 
symbols of imperial rule, but had also had a certain sentimental 
tie with the mother country. These new colonists who were 
now so rapidly building towns across the mountains were at 
perfect liberty to devise their own governments, and that of 
the United States was too young and too weak to afford much 
basis as yet for either loyalty or fear. In fact, when many of 
the immigrants had gone West and built their stockaded village 
or made their solitary clearing, there was no United States 
government worthy of the name. Here in the West was a 
colossal land of surpassing richness which they intended to 
make their own by their blood and sweat, and in which they 
planned to do as they chose. Perhaps they would join the 
United States back East, and perhaps they would not. They 
had their own problems, and they would see how things turned 
out. If the United States could help them to what they 
wanted, well and good. Meanw’hile, the world was wide and 
there was an empire to be won. By 1800 the Ohio country 
was raising crops for export to the value of 1700,000, and 
building ships for the European trade, by way of the Missis- 
sippi and her tributary rivers. In 1803 the Duane of Pitts- 
burgh surprised the authorities of Liverpool by arriving there 
from a place never heard of, and a couple of years later the 
Louisiana of Marietta /vfsts trading between Italy and England 
from the small Ohio town as her home port ! 

But there were difficulties, South and North. The fast- 
increasing produce of the West could not profitably be trans- 
ported eastward across the mountains to the seaboard United 
States. Its natural outlet and market was down the Missis- 
sippi to the Gulf settlements of the Spaniard or overseas to 




n6 THE EPIC OF AMERICA 

Europe. But the Gulf coast and the whole of America west 
of the great river belonged to Spain. Not only that, but 
she owned both sides of the river at New Orleans, and any 
traffic which passed between her banks was allowed to do so by 
courtesy and not by right. The Americans, with new vast ideas 
of continental expansion, were also beginning to look not merely 
for an outlet for their commerce but to the great plains of the 
Southwest, and even the rich civilization and mines of Mexico. 
Spain had a full realization of this, and felt that the only way 
to prevent the expansion, with its threat to her American em- 
pire, was to push up against the descending flood and try to 
crowd it bacL She refused to surrender Natchez, which be- 
longed to us by the treaty with England, claiming that Eng- 
land’s title had been defective, and New Orleans and Natchez 
became double corks in the bottle neck which was the only 
outlet for our West. Not satisfied with that, Spain built more 
posts on American soil, and entered into intrigues with promi- 
nent Western Americans. General James Wilkinson, for ex- 
ample, was simultaneously in the pay of the United States 
army and of the Spanish secret service. The Westerners felt 
that the new government in the East was not giving them suffi- 
cient help and that they would have to look after themselves. 
They had little respect for Spanish power, and thought that, 
with some judicious fishing in*" troubled waters, the time might 
come when they could conquer a southwestern empire for them- 
selves, made up of the Mississippi Valley, Texas, and Mexico. 
With the most magnificent and richest part of the whole con- 
tinent in their possession, they might need to bother no more 
with the “United States” across the almost impassable moun- 
tains. There were also plenty of men in the East who would 
have had no regrets if the problem of possible invasion of West- 
ern radicalism might thus be got rid of. 

As the Westerners looked /south to the Gulf or west across 
the river to the farther West, they were thus confronted with a 
hostile and intriguing Spain. As they looked north to the great 
region of forests and fur trade, they were confronted with a no 
less hostile and intriguing England. Both nations worked on 


THE NATION FINDS ITSELF 


117 

the Indians to attack the Americans on their own soil. More- 
over England, like Spain, not only refused to surrender her 
army posts within our territory, but also built new ones. The 
United States, as we have said, had not carried out all the terms 
of the Treaty of Peace, notably the one which had pledged the 
national faith to offer every facility in the American courts for 
the collection of bona-fide pre-war debts owing to English mer- 
chants by Americans. Taking advantage of this dereliction 
of duty on our side, the English government continued to hold 
the Northwestern country, collecting furs, influencing the 
Indian tribes against us, and holding back American settle- 
ment. The territory clearly belonged to us, yet was held by 
the British army. This was all that the Western settlers could 
see, as they knew little and cared less about unpaid debts to 
English creditors by seaboard debtors. The frontier spirit 
in any case would have been on the side of any debtor, espe- 
cially when the debts were owed to our late enemies. The 
Westerners hated the Spaniard for his strangle hold on their 
Mississippi outlet, but they hoped to deal with, and even 
despoil, him later. It seemed more hopeless to dislodge the 
English, and their hatred of the latter became intense. 

Over the mountains to the east, the new government was 
not oblivious of what was going on in the West, nor even as to 
what was in the minds and dreams of the Westerners ; but 
the government was weak, and Washington felt that every- 
thing possible had to be done to gain time for domestic loyalty 
to develop, and to keep out of foreign war. There was a party 
in England which would have adopted a conciliatory policy 
toward our new country, but the opposition had won, and our 
ships had been debarred from the lucrative West India com- 
merce, which had formerly been one of the chief bases of our 
shipping trade. Moreover, war had broken out in Europe after 
the French Revolution, and as neutrals we were suffering depre- 
dations upon our commerce, none of the belligerents having, 
because of our weakness, any respect for our rights, which were 
in any case rather vaguely defined. Washington played the 
game of diplomacy patiently, but out in the West “Mad 


ii8 THE EPIC OF AMERICA 

AntHony ” Wayne had taught the Miamis and Shawnees and 
other Western tribes in the battle of Fallen Timbers that per- 
haps it might not be well for them to rely too much upon their 
friends the British. 

Meanwhile John Jay had been negotiating with England, 
and in November 1794, signed ^ treaty by which the English 
agreed at last to hand over the Western posts and evacuate 
the country, but at the expense of commercial conditions that 
enraged the Atlantic seaboard. No other treaty ever made by 
us has been so unpopular, and it was an act of great courage on 
Washington’s part to sign it. The West, however, had been 
ransomed, and a breathing space gained from the threat of 
European war. “If this country is preserved in tranquillity 
twenty years longer, it may bid defiance in a just cause to any 
power whatever,” wrote the President, “such in that time will 
be its population, wealth, and resources.” Political parties 
were now being formed, with intense rancor against each other, 
and during the next two years Washington was bitterly at- 
tacked by a portion of the press. Wisely refusing to run for a 
third time, and thus establishing a precedent, he made his 
Farewell Address to his countrymen on September 17, 1796. 
He warned them against cherishing “inveterate antipathies” 
or “passionate attachments” for any other nations, and urged 
that we might keep ourselves, irC the then condition of the world, 
from all entangling alliances with Europe, which had a set of 
interests unshared by us. 

When Jay’s Treaty was signed, peace had come temporarily 
to the nations of Europe ; and as England had withdrawn from 
the North, and the times were not propitious for further in- 
trigue, Spain, who had decided that perhaps a definite bound- 
ary was preferable to expeditions of Americans into her terri- 
tory, agreed on the 31st parallel as the southern line of the 
United States east of the Mississippi, and granted the much- 
longed-for right of navigation of that river and shipping of 
goods through New Orleans. By 1798 she had evacuated her 
posts on American soil, and the Westerners at last came into 
possession of their territory. Now that the intrigues of both 



THE NATION FINDS ITSELF 119 

English and Spanish no longer set the Southern and Northern 
tribes on the war path, the savages could be more easily dealt 
with, and the increase in American population became rapid 
all the way from Georgia to the Great Lakes. The heart of 
the new Americanism began to find its home in the heart of 
the continent, in the new empire of the Mississippi Valley. 
America would not have become what it did in mind and spirit 
had we clung to the shores of the Atlantic. For better and 
worse both, the new America was the child of “ 01 ’ Man River,” 
nurtured in the vast domain which had been his through all the 
ages. It was on frontier after frontier of his vast domain that 
the American dream could be prolonged until it became part 
of the very structure of the American mind. 


AMERICA SECEDES FROM THE OLD WORLD 

About 1800 there were three racial frontiers in the West, al- 
though we have been apt to think only of the one steadily 
advancing from the fringe of the United States. Within the 
limits of our own territory as marked out in the Treaty of Peace, 
there was still a scattered line of settlements which were French 
in culture and long remained so. Detroit, which is now the 
fourth largest city in our country, remained French in character 
until well into the nineteenth century, and even after the Civil 
War its French ancestry was clearly noticeable. From there 
down the Mississippi Valley, through Vincennes, St. Louis, 
and smaller posts to New Orleans, the French influence and 
character were strongly marked, all^of this string of settle- 
ments lying as yet beyond the advancing phalanxes of the 
Americans, with a broad swathe of undeveloped wilderness 
between. 

At New Orleans, the French met and mingled with the other 
Latin stream of the Spanish, who extended from Florida to the 
Pacific. The main body of the Spanish Empire was, of course, 



AMERICA SECEDES FROM THE OLD WORLD lar 


in Mexico and South Amerieay but this had a vast and imprac- 
tically extended frontier line from the army posts in the Floridas, 
through New Orleans, San Antonio, and other settlements in 
Texas, Santa F6 in New Mexico, and straggling settlements 
up the coast of California. Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Mon- 
terey, San Jose, San Francisco, had all been founded in the 
eighteenth century, as well as Los Angeles, now the fifth 
largest city in the United States. There were many military 
posts, called presidios, and Jesuit missions along the coast, at 
which twenty thousand nominally Christianized Indians had 
been gathered, but the Spanish population within the limits 
of the present United States was small — not over twelve hun- 
dred in California, and probably less than that number in the 
other northern provinces. The expansive powers of Spain 
had long since failed, and in any case it would have been im- 
possible to settle thickly a frontier line of such endless length 
edging an entire continent. Texas, New Mexico, California, 
were each at the end of a long overland trail from Mexico City, 
and were mere outposts of empire against Indians, English, 
French, and Russians, the last threatening southward expan- 
sion from Alaska. The culture of the Spaniards, however, — 
notably in architecture and historical romance, — has been 
far out of proportion to their numbers, and in these and other 
ways the Spanish influence stiU'persists throughout the South, 
and in the Far West. 

We have had much, and shall have more, to say of the influ- 
ence of the frontier on our national life. However, we must not 
forget that, as has been already pointed out in regard to the 
form of colonial governments, the influences of institutions and 
environments are always dependent upon what, for lack of * 
clearer knowledge, we call race. The French voyageurs who 
paddled their canoes along the streams, or the French farmers 
who tilled their fields around Detroit and remained almost 
unchanged Norman peasants generation after generation, did 
not react to the frontier as did the English. No more did the 
Spaniards in California, who spent their time hunting on 
horseback, or with music and games, and, when supply ships 


Ill 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


came by sea, with balls antj gay festivals. The frontier was, 
perhaps, the most important moulding influence in American 
life. But that was because the people who came under its 
influence were for some reason peculiarly receptive to it. Pro- 
fessor Turner performed a great service when he caused the 
whole of American history to be rewritten in terms of the 
frontier, but it is well to remember that, just because frontier 
influence has not been universal, there must also be racial 
factors in our case to account for our receptivity toward it. 
That the Americans and, to a lesser extent, the English race 
everywhere were receptive is all that need concern us now. 

The new American frontier that was forming around i8oo 
was different from preceding ones, and more typically “Ameri- 
can,” as we have come to consider it. The first frontier of 
settlement had not really been an “American” frontier at all. 
All the settlers had England for a background. Poor and well- 
to-do, learned and unlearned, gentlemen and laborers, were 
mingled in fairly close contact. As a newer frontier formed 
at the back of the old settlements, there was, it is true, 
no European background, but the pioneers were nowhere far 
from our oldest settled country. To a considerable extent, 
however, in passing the population through this second sieve, 
the learned and gentle were left behind, and rawness and lack 
of culture were increased along the border. The American 
population has been squeezed through such a sieve over and 
over again, and, when the first migrations over the mountains 
occurred, there was another elimination of education and refine- 
ment. Moreover, with each successive swarming out from the 
older settlements the background of culture and beauty became 
more and more meagre. The first settlers had come from 
the rich background of old England, hs churches and hedge- 
rows and old, old villages, its handicrafts and household arts 
even in the homes of the small farmers. In the colonies, by the 
latter third of the eighteenth century, a civilization of no mean 
order had arisen, as we have seen, but it was different. The 
good architecture was confined almost wholly to the modest 
dwellings of the upper class. There were no great buildings 


AMERICA SECEDES FROM THE OLD WORLD 123 

of any sort. The churches — with a few exceptions —were 
everywhere, for the most part barnlike, bare, and ugly. The 
homes of the poor had begun to take on that unpain ted 
packing-box effect of bare utility with no pretense to beauty 
that has ever since been one of the depressing aspects of our 
countryside. In their interiors, all interest in the carving or 
painting of furniture had disappeared, and a crude utility had 
obliterated any striving for the sesthetic. 

Life had been growing freer and more independent for the 
poor, but also less cultured in the broadest sense. American 
advance has always involved a selection. If that selection has 
meant that the more democratic, the more independent, cou- 
rageous, and ambitious, — as well, it must not be forgotten, 
as the more shiftless, • — have passed on to the frontiers as pio- 
neers, so has it also meant that those for whom education, the 
pleasures of social life, aesthetic and intellectual opportunities 
of one sort and another have counted as more important than 
a material getting ahead, have for the most part usually stayed 
behind. They have been deposited in successive “older set- 
tlements” like the sediment in a stream in flood. 

Although the hunter and Indian trader had always made a 
blurred fringe ahead of actual settlement in the wilderness, the 
earlier frontiers had been made up of permanent home builders. 
Gradually, however, the more characteristic triple advance of 
civilization began. First went the adventurers, a motley crew 
of hunters, traders, ne’er-do-weels, restless and discontented 
spirits, men, also, fired with the spirit of adventure in the un- 
tried and unknown. As others of a somewhat more substantial 
sort followed, the first would feel cramped, sell out their scantily 
cleared fields, and move on. Behind the second line of advance 
was a third, whose members came in greater numbers, brought 
social organization of schools and newspapers and churches, 
built towns and pushed ahead of them the second line of those 
who had got used to semi-wilderness conditions, as those, in 
turn, had pushed ahead oi them the first liners who felt cramped 
with neighbors a dozen miles away. But the torch of frontier 
influence was handed back rapidly from one line of advance 


124 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


to another, and when we speak of the frontier we mean, in gen- 
eral, all three of the lines up to such period as the third began 
to be “old,” “settled,” or “conservative.” 

To a considerable extent, this might happen fairly quickly, 
and by 1793 there were already three newspapers established 
to the west of the Alleghanies; but this did not prevent the 
overpowering influence of frontier life and thought. We have 
already spoken of the effects of such life on the ideals of democ- 
racy, work, and the all-important increase in mere physical 
comfort. There was another effect as the Americans began to 
understand better both the hardships and the technique of 
fron tiering. The older and more substantial men became 
more and more hesitant about venturing, and the frontier 
rapidly became young. An enthusiastic youthfulness becomes 
one of its clearest notes. Hope and inexperience combine to 
emphasize the freedom and democracy of the wilderness and of 
economic equality. Failures there were in plenty. The whole 
front of the American advance was strewn with them, men and 
women who dropped down to the moral, economic, and intel- 
lectual level of a hopeless and shiftless poverty. But in the 
buoyant air of freedom, of youth and of opportunity, it was 
those who succeeded who gave the tone to the temperament of 
the frontier everywhere. 

Success on the frontier — oa the innumerable frontiers that 
have followed one another across the continent — meant ma- 
terial success, tinged with politics. Almost all those who went 
to the frontier were poor, and even to buy land at a dollar an 
acre, work and stock it, meant going into debt. The funda- 
mental problem, which united the whole frontier in a bond of 
sympathetic understanding, was to make money, or at least to 
build up the material structure of a home. The mark of that 
struggle remained on everyone. Material success became a 
good in itself that could not, be questioned. The only other 
success which the life offered was that of local leadership, be- 
coming a known and followed man in one’s community. For 
that it was essential that one should be able, so to say, to swing 
an axe, to get one’s self on in the rough and hard life, to mix 



AMERICA SECEDES FROM THE OLD WORLD 125 

with one’s neighbors on a plane of equality, or? if a bit above 
them, to be that bit only in the abilities they admired, the abili- 
ties that enabled one to be a good frontiersman. On the one 
hand, the man who was merely virile, strong, ambitious in a 
material sense, was much more apt to make a success in that 
hard life than the man who by training or environment pos- 
sessed the manners of good society, who was learned or culti- 
vated and who cared more about such things than about spend- 
ing his life making a clearing and adding acre to acre. On the 
other hand, the frontiersmen, possessing none of these things, 
but others of value, naturally idealized themselves and their 
qualities, and came to look down upon those different from 
themselves, as the Puritan had looked down upon those with 
whom he differed as being morally inferior. Just as American 
Puritanism had become intolerantly narrow, so was the life 
of the frontier; and thus two of the strongest influences in our 
life, religion and the frontier, made in our formative periods 
for a limited and intolerant spiritual life. 

The development of that vast optimism which is one of our 
characteristics belongs to the next period, but already there was 
growing up on the frontier that self-confidence which breathes 
a belief that we know our own business better than anyone else. 
Life on the frontier was extremely narrow, and success in it 
called for the combination of a few primal qualities, not of a 
very high order, save perhaps those of physical courage and 
dogged perseverance, which, after all, can be found also else- 
where. The fact, however, that a man who was more than 
this simple type was less likely to be a success in frontier terms 
tended to make the frontier mistrust his qualities and greatly 
enhanced its complete trust in its own. Because the frontiers- 
men had developed the right combination of qualities to con- 
quer the wilderness, they began to believe quite naturally that 
they knew best, so to say, how conquer the world, to solve 
its problems, and that their own qualities were the only ones 
worth a man’s having. Among these came to be aggressive- 
ness, self-assertion, and a certain un teachableness. 

Self-confidence was greatly increased by the simplicity of 


126 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


the frontiersman’s problems and of his life. There were none 
of the complications of an old and settled community. Under 
the new Land Law of 1800, a settler could buy smaller tracts 
of land, paying down only fifty cents an acre, the balance of a 
dollar and a half an acre being nominally spread over four years. 
Boys usually married at eighteen or twenty, when they had 
saved a hundred dollars or so, and girls at fourteen to sixteen. 
The bridegroom might receive as gifts a horse, seed, and a few 
implements ; the bride a bed, perhaps a cow, a few chairs and 
kitchen utensils. The neighbors joined together to build a 
rough house in a few days, and the couple were well started. 
Children, ten to a dozen, and sometimes twenty or more, were 
welcomed as affording, almost from the time they were able 
to walk, additional labor for the pair, and almost no expense, 
though some additional toil. Food came from the farm, clothes 
were homemade, there were no bills for doctors or schooling, 
and, when old enough to marry, the children would start out 
as their parents had. For those settlers who enlarged their 
economic operations, the problems of money owed to Eastern 
creditors and of markets for outlet of surplus products might 
become of bitter importance, but for countless individual set- 
tlers life was reduced to its simplest terms. 

But, if life was simple, it was almost unbearably narrow. 
If there was almost no privacy, sometimes a dozen persons 
living in one room, and every neighbor knowing his neighbor’s 
business, nevertheless there was great loneliness also and little 
or nothing for minds to feed on. In the life of the colonial 
Americans, and later of our frontiers in each wave of advance, 
we can trace the lack of desire for privacy, and the craving for 
news and gossip of any sort to break the monotony of empty 
minds, in lives of little variety and in communities where every- 
one is doing precisely what his neighbor is doing. The simple 
economic conditions of marriage in America had done away 
with the European idea of dowries, and American boys and 
girls “married for love,” but the hard, grinding work of daily 
toil and the incessant childbearing left little time for romance, 
and both minds and emotions became starved. 




AMERICA SECEDES FROM THE OLD WORLD 127 


Just as William Bradford, in trying to account for the preva- 
lence of unnatural vice at Plymouth, with its religious repres- 
sion, had suggested that human nature, dammed in one direc- 
tion, would find outlets in another, so the emptiness of life on 
the frontier, and to some extent among the poor of the older 
settlements, led the emotions to find relief in wild orgies. At 
first the religion of the frontier had been to a great extent the 
Presbyterian, but about 1800 the less intellectual and more 
emotional appeal of the Baptist and especially the Methodist 
faith swept the frontiersmen into those folds. These denomi- 
nations did not believe in a learned ministry, and their appeals 
were all to the emotions. The almost incredible camp meet- 
ings catered both to the settler’s desire for company and to his 
need for expression in emotional life. The inhibitions of his 
starved social and emotional life were suddenly removed by 
the mass psychology of these vast gatherings, at which thou-, 
sands would exhibit pathological symptoms in unison. 

One of the greatest of these, held in Bourbon County, Ken- 
tucky, in 1801, was attended by twenty-five to thirty thou- 
sand persons, coming from a circuit of a hundred miles. Seven- 
teen preachers, as well as many volunteers, preached con- 
tinuously from a Friday to the following Thursday, and at one 
time, it is said, three thousand followers lay unconscious on 
the ground in religious swoons, ivhile five hundred “jerked” 
and “barked” in unison. One prayer felled three hundred 
of them. In the innumerable meetings of the sort during the 
next half century, in the poorer parts of the East and through- 
out the South and West, the religious frenzy often passed into 
a sexual orgy, and as dusk came on, and the preacher played 
on the emotional natures of his hearers, he would be surrounded 
by a mass of humanity in which all intellectual control had 
been released, some falling insensible, some writhing in fits, 
some crawling and barking like dogs, some having the “jerks,” 
and others throwing themselves in couples on the ground among 
the trees in frenzies of sensual passion. Although such meet, 
ings were greatly objected to by the more substantial men, 
they were a natural outcome of the abnormal conditions in 


128 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


many sections of American life. Man craves an outlet for his 
emotions, and these had been completely starved in the mo- 
notonous, hard-working, lonely, drab existence of the outer 
settlements and frontier. 

The camp meetings, with all their pathological symptoms, 
merely throw a lurid light on a more general factor which was 
beginning to have influence in America. All the way down the 
stream of European life, from savagery through paganism to 
the Middle Ages, there had been in most periods various out- 
lets for man’s emotional nature. There were the household 
arts and crafts, in which man’s aesthetic emotions, however 
crude, found some self-expression. There were the religious 
pageants, services, and festivals, full of color and emotional 
content, many of them derived unconsciously from those of 
pagan days. There was much in the communal life of one sort 
and another that brought people together and gave interest 
and color to their lives. Almost all of this had disappeared 
in America. Self-expression in art had, as we have noted, been 
abandoned under the stress of the struggle for mere material 
comfort. Owing largely to Puritanism, the religious festivals 
had been abandoned and all aesthetic emotion had been ban- 
ished from church services. The early Church in Europe, 
frowning on many festivals as pagan, had been forced to restore 
them for the mental health of the people and to bless them in 
the name of Christianity. There was nothing in the hard-work- 
ing, drab life of the American poor and pioneers to take the 
place of all these things. Mind and emotion became ingrowing, 
and nature took its revenge in the form of occasional outbursts 
of violent excitement. The camp meeting is a key to much 
that we shall find even in present-day life, in a nation even yet 
emotionally starving. r 

The West was growing rapidly. In 1800 the territory of 
“Indiana” was set off from the Northwest Territory because 
of the radicals’ objections to the governor, St. Clair. Three 
years later the State of Ohio was formed and admitted to the 
Union, with the most democratic constitution of any State 
yet — judges, for example, being appointed by the legislature. 




I: 

AMERICA SECEDES FROM THE OLD WORLD 129 

and for periods of seven years instead of for life or good be- 
havior. Population was increasing so fast that there seemed 
no limit to possible development. There was comparatively 
little intercourse with the old East, and “the river” gave to 
the whole of the States now being built up a unity of life and 
direction of which they were very self-conscious. There was 
a free West and a slave-owning West, but these sections were 
bound together by the subtle tie of both being “West” and 
by the more material one of “OF Man River,” who brought 
them all together and promised to be the great common outlet 
for all their produce. 

There was no market in the East, owing to the cost of trans- 
porting produce over the mountains. There were only credi- 
tors there, for most of the Westerners owed money either to 
land companies or the government, from whom they had bought 
their lands on partial payment, or to individuals for the 
expenses of development. Already the East was beginning to 
be regarded as grasping, aristocratic, snobbish, dangerous, 
effete, and undemocratic by those who breathed the free air of 
mortgage-encumbered acres. Then, suddenly, a rumor came 
that Spain had ceded the territory of Louisiana, with the port 
of New Orleans, to France ; and that France might bottle up 
all Western energy and prosperity by closing the mouth of the 
river! 

Back in the East, which was beginning to look small as com- 
pared with the boundless stretch from the Appalachians to the 
Rockies, North and South were developing fast, and, in some 
respects, far apart from each other and from the West. In the 
South, the cotton gin had done its work and created a new 
economic order. Agriculture and slavery had ceased to be 
unprofitable. In South parolina, Georgia, and Alabama the 
cotton kingdom had arisen, with its great estates and its 
insatiable demands for more Und and more slaves. The 
tobacco planters of Vir^nia, who a generation before had been 
willing to talk of emancipation, now found the breeding of 
slaves for the ever-yawning market more to the south a profit- 
able adjunct to their fields, although prosperity did not return 


130 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


to the great houses. Throughout all the country south of the 
PotomaCj however, the social structure of the ante-bellum 
period^ so well known in song and story, was rapidly crystal- 
lizing. Life was utterly different from that in the West, but, 
because both sections were agricultural and in debt, the politi- 
cal philosophy of each was agrarian. Both feared the growing 
money power in the North; and the small democratic farmer 
of the West and the great landed magnate of the South both 
disliked the Northern merchant and banker socially — one 
because he had no manners, and the other because he had 
too much! 

Jefferson, as we have seen, trusted the common man, but 
only — a fact which is now often forgotten — when that man 
was a farmer, large or small, and had the self-reliant, individ- 
ualistic, conservative traits that the ownership and working 
of the soil develop. He had no faith whatever in a city pro- 
letarian class. Nor had he faith in a purely moneyed class of 
the towns. This had been one of his chief reasons for opposing 
Hamilton’s attempt to create such classes, which are always 
found together. In the South, John Taylor of Caroline gave 
emphatic voice to the Southern and Western fears. A capi- 
talistic class based on manufacturing, stockjobbing, banking, 
and speculation was bound, in his opinion, to bring about class 
hatreds. It would exploit the people at large as ruthlessly as 
ever royal, noble, or church classes had done, and at the same 
time be far more difficult to reach or control because it had no 
distinct legal status or privileges as a class. It would have no 
legal obligations going with its position and would work subtly 
underground for its own selfish interest in public opinion or any 
political party. In the course of time it would ruin the country. 

Hamilton, however, had been successful — at least partially 
so. His policies of refunding, assumption, and of a bank, as 
well as the tariff to be later adopted, had given an enormous 
impetus to the building up of a moneyed interest; but that 
interest, instead of extending throughout the country as he 
had expected, had become localized in the North, where it was 
to remain entrenched until the present day. 


AMERICA SECEDES FROM THE OLD WORLD 131 


For the building up of such an interest both labor and capi- 
tal were necessary. We have already noted the difficulty of 
getting the former in the Northj in the absence of free laborers 
or slaves. The New Englanders, however, now busy starting 
their new textile mills, solved the problem for the generation 
of 1800 onward. For various reasons there was much distress 
among the small farmers, which accounted for the great emi- 
gration to the West. Many, however, could not emigrate, 
because of abject poverty or other causes. To operate their 
new machines, the mill owners exploited these conditions by 
seizing on the wives and children of impoverished farmers. 
“In collecting our help,” wrote one, “we are obliged to employ 
poor families, and generally those having the greater num- 
ber of children.” Tending machines, wrote another, did not 
require men, but was better done by girls of from six to twelve 
years of age. Of these, great numbers were set to work to 
create the capital required by their employers. In one Rhode 
Island plant in 1801, Josiah Quincy found one hundred of them 
at work, for from twelve to twenty-five cents a day, there being 
a “dull dejection in the countenances of all of them.” Pos- 
sibly three quarters of the operatives were young women, but 
sometimes an entire family let themselves out. In one case, 
for example, a man signed a contract for $ 3.00 a week for him- 
self, $2.00 for his sixteen-year-old* son, $1.50 for his thirteen- 
year-old son, 1 1. 25 for his daughter of twelve, 83 for his boy 
of ten, 562.33 for his sister, ^1.50 for her son of thirteen, and 
1.75 for her daughter of eight. With a labor supply thus 
arranged for, the outlook was bright for the rapid production 
of capital from manufacturing. 

Shipping, however, was producing it more rapidly. It had 
been discovered that by bqying furs for very little on the coast 
of Alaska and selling them for a great deal to the Chinese, and 
by repeating the operation with goods bought in China and 
sold here, large profits could be made. This and other shipping 
routes began to pile up fortunes for men who came from nothing 
to affluence in a short time. A mercantile “ aristocracy,” as 
its descendants like to call it, was being built up in Salem, Bos- 




132 THE EPIC OF AMERICA 

ton, Newport, New York, and other ports. Although we usu- 
ally hear much more of the Massachusetts ships than others, 
the greatest fortunes were built by men like Astor of New York 
and Girard of Philadelphia, who in the first decade of the cen- 
tury became America’s first millionaires. Money was coming 
to count for more in American life and to spell power. Success 
loomed much larger, and Astor and Girard, whose predatory 
methods were notorious, became two of the most powerful men 
in the country, men whose words were respectfully listened to 
in the Congress now located in the new city of Washington. 

Astor was a czar in the Far Northwest fur trade, where his 
power was greater than that of the Federal government ; and 
a man who, like Girard, could order his London bankers to 
make a single investment of a half million dollars out of his 
idle balance was beginning to exert a new sort of influence. 
The country was getting rich fast, but there were multitudes of 
men beside John Taylor of Caroline who looked anxiously at 
the portents in the North. “We have,” wrote John Adams in 
1808, “one material which actually constitutes an aristocracy 
that governs the nation. That material is wealth. Talents, 
birth, virtues, services, sacrifices, are of little consideration 
with us.” He added that the object of both political parties 
was “chiefly wealth.” Connecticut was and always had been, 
he said, governed by a half-dbzen or a dozen families at most. 

Looking back later, Emerson wrote, perhaps somewhat too 
sweepingly, that between 1790 and 1820 there was “not a 
book, a speech, a conversation, or a thought” produced in the 
State of Massachusetts. Emerson may have exaggerated, but 
our intellectual life was at a low ebb. In the North, new men, 
with no background of culture and no interest in things of the 
mind, were building up new fortunes to incredible figures for 
that day, and setting a new pace for all to follow. In the 
South much more of the Old World lingered, but there also 
King Cotton was scattering riches so lavishly and in such un- 
expected and untraditional directions that the pursuit became 
absorbing. In the West, life was hard and the pioneer quali- 
ties had to be exalted lest the weary people faint. The civili- 


AMERICA SECEDES FROM THE OLD WORLD 133 

zation of the eighteenth century had died, and a new America 
was emerging, whatever it might prove to be. Meanwhile, in 
spite of the Declaration of Independence, America was not yet 
free, but was still swirling around in the wake of European 
States. 

In 1797, Washington had been succeeded as President by 
John Adams, of the Federalist Party, if Adams could be said 
ever to have belonged to a party. England and France were 
again at war, and both were preying on our commerce, France 
being the worst aggressor in this period. In spite of the wise 
advice in Washington’s Farewell Address, the American politi- 
cal parties strongly espoused sides in the European quarrel, 
the Republicans (then so-called) under Jefferson being insanely 
pro-French and the Federalists pro-English. John Adams, 
like Washington, was merely pro-American. The provoca- 
tions of France, especially in her adding insult to injury in refus- 
ing to accept our representatives unless bribed to do so, as was 
made clear in the X.Y.Z. correspondence, were very great. 
Pugnacious as Adams could be on occasion, he was as anxious 
as Washington to keep the country clear of European war, at 
least for those twenty years which Washington had deemed 
necessary for us to grow in. Hamilton, however, who con- 
sidered himself the real head of the Federalist Party, but in 
reality was beginning to lose his own, had grandiose schemes 
for declaring war on France and then, in concert with England, 
for attacking Spain, leading a great army of invasion — with 
himself in the r 61 e of conquering hero — into Mexico, seizing 
the whole Southwest, and allowing England to compensate 
herself further south out of the spoils of the dismembered 
Spanish empire. 

Adams chafed and f^^tted, but Hamilton and his Massa- 
chusetts followers, the little powerful group of Federalist leaders 
known as the “Essex Junto,” felt that they had the game quite 
in hand, and were speechifying in the Senate on the armed forces 
to be raised when, without having taken them into his counsel 
at all, Adams sent in the appointment of a Minister to France 
and blew their schemes to atoms. He had learned at last that 


134 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


no trust could be placed in the party leaders ; France had given 
him an opening that might lead to peace ; and, though it in- 
volved his own political ruin, the President had seized it and 
saved the country. Hamilton and the Junto were mad with 
rage, and determined to ruin Adams even though the party 
should commit suicide. History has upheld both the courage 
and the wisdom of Adams, whom Hamilton professed to regard 
as unfit for his office, and Adams himself never wavered in the 
belief that what he had done was right. Years afterward he 
wrote that he considered it the most disinterested act of his 
life, and would have inscribed on his tombstone: “Here lies 
John Adams, who took upon himself the responsibility of peace 
with France in the year 1800.” 

During the excitement, in 1798, Congress had passed the 
Alien and Sedition Acts, the first authorizing the President to 
deport without trial any alien whom he should judge dangerous 
to the peace and safety of the country, and the second preview- 
ing fine and imprisonment for anyone who should publish false, 
malicious, or scandalous statements about members of the 
national government with intent to bring them into disrepute. 
These Acts brought forth responses in the form of resolutions 
passed by the Southern State of Virginia and the Western State 
of Kentucky, claiming that the Acts were in contravention of 
the Federal Constitution and calling upon other States to con- 
sider them void, thus voicing the doctrine of States’ rights and 
nullification. 

The Alien and Sedition Acts, together with the Naturaliza- 
tion Act, by which a residence of fourteen instead of five years 
was made necessary before an alien could become a citizen, all 
sprang from the Hamiltonian-Federalist distrust of the com- 
mon man. Even the excesses of the^ French Revolution had 
not destroyed Jefferson’s implicit faith in him, so long as he 
remained dependent upon the,soil and not upon some capitalist 
for his living. Whether Jefferson was right or wrong yet re- 
mains an open question, for though in political life America’s 
dream and ideal rest on the Jeffersonian faith in the common 
man, in her economic life she has developed along the lines 


AMERICA SECEDES FROM THE OLD WORLD 135 

of Hamiltonian special privilege and moneyed classes. As 
America grew she tried to serve, so to say, God and Mammon 
— that is, she insisted upon clinging to the ideal of Jefferso- 
nianism while gathering in the money profits from Hamilto- 
nianism. By building up a great industrial and financial, instead 
of an agrarian. State, we have cut the major premise from out 
the logical structure of Jefferson’s faith, and applied that faith 
to conditions under which he distinctly renounced it. On the 
other hand, we have erected an economic order according to 
Hamilton, but on a basis of a political philosophy which he did 
not believe would work. That is the modern American para- 
dox. In 1800, however, America was still at the parting of 
the ways, and it yet seemed possible that the nation might 
choose to follow in the pure doctrine of either one or the other 
leader. 

There is no doubt that Jeffersonianism was the American 
doctrine, stemming straight from the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence, which he had drawn up, and from the whole theory 
upon which the War of Secession from England had been 
fought. If the common man were to be submerged beneath a 
hierarchy of the moneyed class, it was not easy for him to see 
wherein he had gained by substituting for a political king three 
thousand miles overseas a creditor king at his cottage door. If 
America has stood for anything unique in the history of the 
world, it has been for the American dream, the belief in the 
common man and the insistence upon his having, as far as possi- 
ble, equal opportunity in every way with the rich one. 

By 1800 the common man was up in arms against the Fed- 
eralist Party with its openly expressed disbelief in him and its 
effort to control him. The great debtors of the Southern 
plantations and small debtors of the Western clearings were 
equally distrustful of the rising financial powers of the North. 
They had seen the Northern speculators rake in almost all the 
profit derived by the Hamiltonian policies of redemption and 
assumption. Of the national debt, the one State of Massa- 
chusetts held more than all the Southern States combined. 
They had watched the rise under government favoritism of a 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


136 

mercantile-shipping-manufacturing-banking group whose inter- 
ests they believed, not without reason, to be directly opposed 
to those of the farmers and planters. From 1796 to 1800 they 
had seen the expenses of the Federal government mount from 
15,800,000 to $10,800,000, while in 1798 the party which had 
built up the moneyed class by special privilege laid a direct 
tax on houses, lands, and slaves, the weight of which fell to a 
far greater extent upon the planter in the South, and the poor 
everywhere, than upon the new rich of the North. Jefferson 
had been biding his time, and the general discontent in 1800, 
combined with the split in the Federalist Party, gave him his 
opportunity. 

The presidential campaign of 1800 was fought with great 
bitterness, the clergy of Connecticut in particular contributing 
a most ungodly amount of unchristian lying about Mr. Jeffer- 
son. With the almost solid backing of the South and West, 
and the addition of large numbers from the poor farmer and 
city laboring class in the North, the Republican (later the 
Democratic) Party won easily, although, owing to the system 
then in force, there was a tie vote between Jefferson and Burr 
for highest place. This was settled in the House of Repre- 
sentatives as provided for by the Constitution, and Jefferson 
was elected. On the last evening before he retired from office, 
John Adams appointed a number of Federal judges, as he had 
shortly before appointed John Marshall as Chief Justice of the 
Supreme Court, with profound and lasting effect upon the 
development of both the Constitution and the nation. The 
judiciary was the only branch of the government from which 
the Federalists had not been swept clean from office. In the 
past dozen years they had rendered great services to the coun- 
try, but their political philosophy of governing by an oligarchy 
of wealth, talent, and birth was wholly un-American as inter- 
preted by the great mass of the American people. The Ameri- 
can philosophy was based on the economics of agrarianism, and 
agrarianism had won. Farmers, Jefferson had said, “are the 
true representatives of the great American interest, and are 
alone to be relied upon for expressing the proper American 



AMERICA SECEDES FROM THE OLD WORLD 137 


sentiraents.” They had responded by expressing those senti- 
ments at the polls with exceptional clarity. 

Jefferson’s election was a triumph for the American dream. 
We have seen how, in spite of the vast changes due to follow- 
ing Hamilton in our business life, America even yet clings to 
the Jeffersonian belief in the common man. This is still an 
axiom with millions of Americans who have forgotten or never 
heard of Jefferson’s distinction between “common men” of 







varying industrial pursuits. But subconsciously that distinc- 
tion seems to have lingered until within a decade or so, for the 
American farmer has been considered to be the special reposi- 
tory of the American virtues, in spite of the enormous increase 
in other classes of toilers. Up to the Great War, it was an 
asset of no small value to a public man to have been raised on a 
farm, to have been a “barefoot boy, with cheek of tan” — in 
spite of the fact that nearly half the boys in the nation were 
by that time being brought up to dodge automobiles in crossing 
city streets. 

The fears of Jefferson’s opponents that his entry upon office 
would usher in a reign of anarchy were wholly without founda- 
tion. The disgraceful predictions of the Reverend Timothy 
Dwight, Congregational “Pope” of Connecticut and President 
of Yale College, that if Jefferson were elected “we may see our 
wives and daughters the victims of legal prostitution ; soberly 
dishonored; speciously polluted; the outcasts of delicacy and 
virtue, the loathing of God and man,” simply did not come to 
pass. As a matter of fact, although he was not a professing 
Christian, few more genuinely religious men than Jefferson ever 
entered the White House, although the New England clergy, 
like all others, subtly influenced by the economic interests of 
the richer members of their congregations, could not appreciate 
that fact. 

Jefferson insisted upon maintaining the national credit, and 
upon the payment of all debts, public and private. His first 
four years were a period of excellent, economical government, 
illuminated by one of the most brilliant coups in international 
politics that have ever been seen. 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


138 

By 1 800 there were a million Americans settled in the terri- 
tory which the British government had tried to close to pio- 
neers by the Proclamation of 1763. Every little village and 
scrub town along the Western rivers — Pittsburgh, Wheeling, 
Cincinnati, and hosts of others — was dreaming of a future in 
which it would be a great centre of wealth and population. 
There is never any past on the frontier, only a future, and one 
of the most radical changes which frontier mentality undergoes 
is precisely this complete shift of orientation in time. To 
dream solely of the future instead of the past is bound to act 
as a powerful solvent on one’s entire stock of ideas and mental 
processes. The rumor, therefore, that Spain had ceded Louisi- 
ana to France and that France was to close “the river” came 
as a profound shock, not merely to business plans of the moment, 
but to the whole dream the West had been dreaming. 

For two years France repeatedly lied, denying that any trans- 
fer had taken place, but at last she was ready to act openly, 
and in October i8oa the agent at New Orleans closed the river 
to American commerce. Spain had ceased to be a power in 
the Mississippi Valley. The future of the West depended 
again on France, and Napoleon had turned the key on the only 
door which opened on the world. From flatboat to fiatboat, 
river town to river town, the news leaped frantically up “ the 
river” and along its tributaries, it was carried overland by 
swift courier from Natchez to Washington, and reached 
Jefferson in the White House. 

The President knew his West. He knew how slight the bond 
of economic interest was that held it to the East. He knew the 
dream it dreamed, and that if no help came promptly from the 
Federal government, the pioneers would take matters into 
their own hands, rush France out of jts slender hold on the 
Gulf, plunge the nation into war, and perhaps set up for them- 
selves a huge trans-Appalachian State, a United States of the 
Mississippi. The Federalists hoped a chance had come to 
break Jefferson’s popularity in the West, and howled for war. 
Jefferson, however, had long foreseen the crisis. Six months 
before, he had written to the American Minister in Paris that 


AMERICA SECEDES FROM THE OLD WORLD 139 

the day France took possession of New Orleans, “we must 
marry ourselves to the British fleet and nation.” First, how- 
ever, he would try pacific means, and without divulging hisj 
purpose he obtained an authorization from Congress of a mil- 
lion dollars for expenses incidental to our intercourse with 
foreign nations. He then instructed the Minister in Paris to 
attempt to buy New Orleans and the Floridas, the island of 
New Orleans alone, or, at worst, the right of navigation. 

There were ample reasons, some known and others not 
(including the imminence of war with England), why at that 
moment Napoleon was anxious to turn an uncertain liability 
in the New World into cash in the Old. On April ii, 1803, he 
defied the British Ambassador and simultaneously offered the 
American Minister, Robert Livingston, and our special envoy, 
James Monroe, the of Louisiana. Terms were quickly 

arranged, and in less than three weeks the United States had 
secured the entire continent from the east bank of the Missis- 
sippi to the Rocky Mountains, and from northern Texas to the 
Canadian border, for a total sum of fifteen million dollars. 
“Or Man River” had become American for his whole four 
thousand miles of imperial extent. A million square miles had 
doubled the size of the country, three fourths of which was now 
“the West.” By a stroke of the pen, the national centre of 
gravity had shifted as if by a convulsion of nature. 

Meanwhile an event had occurred in Washington which was 
also to alter materially the development of the nation, although 
it had none of the spectacular quality of Jefferson’s statesman- 
ship. In delivering an opinion in the case of Marbury v. Madi- 
son^ Chief Justice Marshall had quietly laid down the principle 
that “a legislative act contrary to the Constitution is not law 
. . . that a law repugnant to the Constitution is void.” The 
Supreme Court thus placed the corner stone of its power of 
legislative review. Congress was not, like Parliament, to ex- 
press the legislative will of the people. The veto of the elected 
President could be overridden if desired, but not the judicial 
veto of a majority of our nine judges appointed for life if their 
verdict should be, “Unconstitutional.” 


140 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


Jefferson’s first term had been amazingly successful. The 
Federalists were demoralized, and in July 1804, when Aaron 
Burr killed their leader, HamUton, in a duel, their power 
crumbled completely. In the autumn, Jefi^erson received 162 
electoral votes to his opponent’s 14. 

Whether or not the territory ceded by France included the 
Floridas and Texas was a moot point. Jefferson wanted 
Florida, to give us control of the Gulf coast, and the West- 
erners wanted Texas. In 1806, Burr, now thoroughly dis- 
credited, went West and played his hand at some sort of con- 
spiracy which is even yet unexplained- In any case it was a 
complete fiasco, but other troubles crowded quickly on the 
President. The war between England and France was bring- 
ing in its train the usual insults to ourselves. Among these 
was the impressment of seamen on our vessels by the British. 
There was no question but that large numbers of British sub- 
jects preferred to serve on American merchant vessels rather 
than on British ships of war, but the mere claim of a right to 
stop and search our vessels would have been annoying enough 
in itself had the British not gone further and frequently taken 
bona-fide Americans from them. There was much fraud con- 
nected with naturalization papers, and the claim to American 
citizenship did not mean much. The French could have no 
excuse for a similar procedure, ''owing to the difierence in race 
and language, so this particular source of irritation was wholly 
of British origin. 

In June 1807, England went even further, and a roar of 
indignation went up in America when the British frigate Leopard 
overhauled our frigate Chesapeake off the Norfolk Capes, fired 
on her, and took off four men. Had Jefferson chosen to declare 
war, he would have had a united country behind him, but he 
preferred to try the coercion of economic measures, and the 
rest of his term is mainly the story of the failure of his embargo 
policy, and the rising bitterness of the commercial Northerners 
against the closing of their ports and the ruin of their shipping 
by their own government. Meanwhile both England and 
France were issuing their Orders in Council and decrees, aiming 



AMERICA SECEDES FROM THE OLD WORLD 141 


at establishing paper blockades and preventing neutrals from 
trading with either country. In this respect there was nothing 
whatever to choose between the two countries in respect to their 
interference with our rights. Our own country might extend 
from the Atlantic to the Rockies, but once out on the high seas 
we were still kicked about by both the European belligerents, 
and it was not easy to tell which was kicking us harder. Jef- 
ferson’s policy of standing on the side lines while the Europeans 
kicked each other, and perhaps forcing their attention to our 
claims by refusing to trade with them, had been a complete 
failure, much more likely to disrupt the Union by the Secession 
of New England than to gain international respect for our 
rights. There might be little choice between England and 
France in respect of wrongs done us, but we could hardly enter 
the fight against both at once when they were fighting each 
other. We were not at all in the position of the man who can 
take two squabbling boys and knock their heads together. It 
might be, as William Pinkney said in 1810, that “war with 
France is about as practicable as war with the moon,” but if 
we were to choose sides, the side chosen would depend on 
something more than what they were both doing to us on the 
seas. As we have said, the centre of gravity of America had 
shifted, and the real demand for war was to come from the 
West. * 

The character of our new acquisition to the west of “the 
river” was not yet well known, but the exploring expeditions 
of Lewis and Clark in the Northwest and of Zebulon M. Pike 
in the Southwest had indicated that the prairies and plains 
were not of much use to settlers, and thus the western half of 
the country was to retain its reputation as the great American 
desert until after the Civil War. Our pioneers were still woods- 
men, used to clearing forests, and the treeless wastes beyond 
puzzled and discouraged them. So the frontier, with its three 
advances of hunters and traders, of short-stop settlers, and of 
real settlement, kept on pushing northward into Indiana and 
the Northwest Territory, shoving the Indians steadily back- 
ward. Between 1795 1809, by “treaties,” the savages 


142 


THE EPIG OF AMERICA 


had been forced to part with forty-eight million acres of their 
hunting grounds. 

The process was suddenly halted by the emergence of two 
of the few great leaders who have arisen among the red men, 
Tecumseh and his brother, the latter called the Prophet, who 
were sons of a Shawnee. The old trader’s method of getting 
furs cheaply by debauching the Indians with whiskey had been 
followed on a larger scale, and if possible in a more scandalous 
way, by the great Astor, and what with this practice, wars, and 
the change in the habits of their life, the natives had shrunk 
to perhaps only four thousand in the great rectangle between 
Pennsylvania, the Mississippi, the Ohio River, and the Cana- 
dian border. The two Shawnees determined to save their 
race without attacking the whites within their own boundaries. 
They urged that no further cessions of land be made, and 
preached against the use of strong drink. The land-hungry 
whites were alarmed. They saw their hopes dashed if the 
Indians should become moral, law-abiding, and insistent upon 
remaining upon their lands. William Henry Harrison was 
governor of the Indiana Territory. He met the situation 
by making a “treaty” with a few scattered and irresponsible 
savages who ceded Tecumseh’s hunting grounds, and then 
Harrison, advancing on Tecumseh’s camp, provoked a fight, 
the famous “battle” of Tij^ecanoe- Tecumseh’s “conspir- 
acy” was broken, but the affair was raw enough and had to be 
glorified. Rumor was spread and gladly believed that the 
English in Canada had been behind the savage in egging him 
on to keep the Americans off his lands, and the streams from 
the vials of moral indignation were diverted from Harrison 
and the Westerners to the British, who, having been the enemy 
for forty years, could easily be madqi the scapegoats for any- 
thing. As a matter of fact we know now that they had nothing 
whatever to do with Tecumseh. 

Over the mountains in Washington the new President, James 
Madison, who was struggling with the international situation 
and was trying to preserve peace by getting both the bellig- 
erents in Europe to rescind their obnoxious Orders and De- 



AMERICA SECEDES FROM THE OLD WORLD 143 

crees, seemed to be making some headway. But the new Con- 
gress that met in 1811 was destined to be led by the West. 
Fiery young men came from Kentucky and settlements up to 
the Canadian border, with Henry Clay at their head, to be 
joined by John C. Calhoun from the South Carolina frontier. 
Little by little these “war-hawks,” as they were called, fanned 
the flame of the war spirit in Congress, shouting how Canada 
could be conquered in six weeks, but mainly giving the war cry 
of “sailors’ rights.” 

They were strongly opposed by the New England States, 
which were the only ones that had any sailors, but which much 
preferred a profitable, if speculative, trade to war, and had no 
wish to sacrifice that trade for the sake of pulling the Canadian 
chestnut out of the fire for the benefit of a West which they 
already dreaded. In fact, they feared the westward shift of 
power so greatly that Josiah Quincy, of Massachusetts, had 
solemnly proclaimed in Congress in January 1811, that if Louisi- 
ana were admitted as a State — as she was the next year — 
the bonds of the Union would be dissolved, and that “as it 
will be the right of all, so it will be the duty of some, to prepare, 
definitely, for a separation ; amicably, if they can ; violently, if 
they must.” New England had nullified the Embargo. It now 
threatened secession. On June .23, 18 12, Parliament repealed 
the Orders in Council. It was t®o late. There was no cable 
to bear the news to America, and five days earlier the war-hawks 
had succeeded. Congress, in compliance with the President’s 
message, had declared war with England on the eighteenth. 

The war proved inglorious and indecisive. We were unpre- 
pared, and England had her hands so full elsewhere that one 
more small enemy was not worth bothering about. Land op- 
erations against Canada were disastrous for us. On the water 
we had some good fights and gained some brilliant victories, 
mostly in duels between single ships on either side, which did 
much to kindle patriotic enthusiasm here and to breed respect 
for us in England. Such victories as those of the Constitution 
over the Guerrihe, of the Wasp over the Frolic, and of Perry 
over the English on Lake Erie, were welcome indeed to the 


144 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


young nation. The West threw up a new hero to the surface 
of American political life in Andrew Jackson, who marched 
into Florida, and also, after peace was signed but the fact was 
still unknown to him, inflicted a severe defeat on the British 
in the battle of New Orleans. Meanwhile the British had cap- 
tured the city of Washington, and in dastardly fashion and sheer 
wantonness had burned some of the public buildings and many 
of our national records. 

New England, rapidly being altered by force of circumstances 
from a maritime to a manufacturing section, was disloyal almost 
to the point of treason. She discouraged enlistment, refused 
the services of militia, declined to subscribe to government 
loans, and threatened secession. So strong, indeed, was the 
odor of secession and disloyalty around the meeting of Feder- 
alist delegates at the so-called Hartford Convention in 1814 
that the members never outlived it. At length both nations 
grew weary of a war which was bringing neither glory nor gain 
to either of them. Peace was made at Ghent the day before 
Christmas, 1814, with nothing said about any of the grievances 
which we had complained of when we began hostilities. 

The war, however, was far from having no results, quite aside 
from our having slipped West Florida into our pocket during 
the general excitement. We had managed to keep out of 
European wars for the twenty years that Washington had said 
were necessary for our growth, thanks to himself, Adams, and 
Jefferson. At last, pushed into it by the West, we had shown 
the world that we would go to war if provoked too far. More- 
over the English, who appreciate a good fighter, had measured 
us with themselves at sea, and had infinitely more respect for 
our abilities than they had had before. Less happily, the war 
left bitterness on both sides. England, who had felt that she 
was fighting the battle of freedom against the all-grasping 
tyrant Napoleon, much as we felt we were making the world 
safe for democracy by fighting Germany recently, could not 
for^ve us for stabbing her in the back when she was so engaged 
and throwing our weight on the side of Napoleon, who had 
injured our commerce quite as much as she had. In America, 



AMERICA SECEDES FROM THE OLD WORLD 145 

the belief in England’s inveterate enmity, a tradition fostered 
among us since the Revolution, was given an enormously in- 
creased strength by our having chosen her as our enemy a second 
time in our short national life. It required several generations 
of research to disprove utterly General Harrison’s lies about 
the English having set Tecumseh on us, and Harrison’s later 
political career as “Tippecanoe” tended to make a legend of 
British perfidy. Had the Westerners not longed for Canada 
and Tecumseh’s hunting grounds, and had France been a little 
more accessible as an enemy than “the moon,” we might very 
well have gone to war with Napoleon instead of with England, 
and the whole sentimental history of our international relations 
might have been quite different. We are a very sentimental 
people, but emotions are bad foundations for international rela- 
tions. Had Napoleon not sold uS Louisiana, we should have 
been dragged into war with him, and “married the British 
fleet.” The War of 1812 began in Napoleon’s bathtub, where 
he was when he made known his inexorable decision to sell 
Louisiana. It ended on the Atlantic Ocean with America 
fighting his enemies for him. His legend never came between 
the American people and that of Lafayette. 

One more result of the war was that we had at last gained 
our independence from Europe. We seceded from it almost 
completely. Not only were we n6 longer caught in every eddy 
of its political contests, but we turned our faces away from it 
and toward the West. A sense of nationality and destiny, 
as well as an immense task of material exploitation, began to 
influence all classes. For the next twenty years we scarcely 
thought of Europe, except, perhaps, now and then to resent it. 
Our schoolboys continued to declaim the revolutionary orations 
against England, because there was as yet not much else in the 
way of “pieces to speak,” and because these orations belonged 
to our short history as a nation, of which we were becoming very 
conscious. For the most part, however, we scarcely took our 
eyes off the colossal task of material development and west- 
ward expansion. We decided to our own entire satisfaction 
that we had just fought a glorious war, and got down to work 


146 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


and making money. During the war, Key had written “The 
Star Spangled Banner,” and it now began to “wave.” Emi- 
grants swarmed into the new West, which seemed to be sucking 
in men from the whole of the old, and now comparatively small. 
South and North. The new centre of gravity was being ever 
more heavily weighted. On the other hand, the collapse of the 
Federalist Party, the disloyalty of New England, the stench — 
of which the most was made — of the Hartford Convention, 
all left New England with only a tithe of the national influence 
it had possessed fifteen years earlier. The South, with its slav- 
ery and great estates, many of them wearing out from too in- 
cessant cultivation of single crops, was becoming a section apart 
from the fast-throbbing life of the new nation. Over the moun- 
tains the great valley, two thousand miles wide, with its unified 
river system four thousand miles long, opened an empire such 
as man had never seen. There was nothing now to stop the 
American short of the Rockies, except the “Great American 
desert.” The songs of the voyageurs had been hushed. On 
the slopes of the Pacific the bells tolled on in the sleepy Spanish 
missions of California, where the dreams were of Heaven or 
bright black eyes and not of expanding empire. Louder and 
louder rose the sound of the Saxon. Along the whole front of 
the moving American “West” a myriad axes swung, crack- 
crack-erack, in ever faster and more dominant staccato, as the 
trees crashed, and the clearings multiplied with incredible 
swiftness. 



VI 

THE SUN RISES IN THE WEST 

In 1800 a million Americans were living west of the mountains, 
and their numbers were increasing so rapidly as to frighten 
Eastern conservatives out of their wits. Then came the 
Louisiana Purchase, the war with England, and Indian cessions, 
throwing open a new empire to seJtlement. New England had 
always liked to consider itself the driver of the American coach, 
and the old die-hard Federalists there fought tooth and nail 
against the upbuilding of a new section which might threaten 
its dying influence. Through their mouthpiece in Congress, 
Josiah Quincy, they had thundered against the addition of 
French Louisiana and the creation of new States. “You have 
no authority,” Quincy tol 4 the members of Congress, “ to throw 
the rights and property of this people into the ‘hotch-potch’ 
with the wild men on the Missouri, nor with the mixed, though 
more respectable race of Anglo-Hispan-Gallo-Americans who 
bask on the sands in the mouth of the Mississippi. . . . Do 
you suppose the people of the Northern and Atlantic States 
will, or ought to, look on with patience and see Representatives 



148 THE EPIC OF AMERICA 

and Senators from the Red River and Missouri, pouring them- 
selves upon this and the other floor, managing the concerns of a 
seaboard fifteen hundred miles, at least, from their residence ?” 
Whether patiently or not, that is precisely what they were 
going to see. 

By 1820 there were two and a half million people instead of 
one million over the mountains — one quarter of the whole 
population of the United States, and a million more than there 
were in New England. By 1830 one third of the American 
people were “men of the Western Waters,” as they liked to call 
themselves, numbering three and a half million. For still 
another decade emigration westward was to be wholly of 
native-born American stock. As we shall note in a later 
chapter, the vacuum left in the older States by this vast 
exodus and by the rapidly increasing demand for industrial 
labor brought about an inflow of foreigners, but these stayed 
on the seaboard, so that until past the mid-century the Mis- 
sissippi Valley was racially, as well as in its enforced economic 
democracy, the real home of Americanism. It was there that 
the American dream seemed most certain of realization. 

Emigration from the seaboard States, mostly Southern, had 
continued throughout the war, but after peace it became a 
veritable exodus. From the North, which was also swept by 
what was called “the Ohio ffever,” the chief entry to the West 
was over the mountains and down the Ohio River. The flat- 
boats carrying a nation to empire floated steadily westward. 
Colonel John May, a rich Boston merchant who was a stock- 
holder in the Ohio Company, watched them pass Pittsburgh, 
and noted that two had “on board twenty-nine whites, twenty- 
four negroes, nine dogs, twenty- three horses, cows, hogs, etc. — 
besides provisions and furniture.” Thousands upon thousands 
floated and poled their way down the Ohio, after having crossed 
the mountains on foot or in Conestoga wagons, “To-day,” 
wrote Judge Hall, “we passed two large rafts lashed together, 
by which simple conveyance several families from New England 
were transporting themselves and their property to the land of 
promise in the western woods. Each raft was eighty or ninety 



THE SUN RISES IN THE WEST 


149 


feet long, with a small house erected on it; and on each was 
a stack of hay, round which several horses and cows were feed- 
ing, while the paraphernalia of a farm yard, the ploughs, 
wagons, pigs, children and poultry, carelessly distributed, gave 
to the whole more the appearance of a permanent residence, 
than a caravan of adventurers seeking- a home. A respectable 
looking old lady, with spectacles on nose, was seated on a chair 
at the door of one of the cabins, employed in knitting ; another 
female was at the wash-tub; the men were chewing their 
tobacco, with as much complacency as if they had been in the 
‘land of steady habits,’ and the various family avocations 
seemed to go like clock-work.” So they passed, these men and 
women of destiny, to the infinite toil of home building in the 
wilderness. Indian alarms were as frequent as fires in Boston, 
May wrote in 1805, and he was tortured by myriads of gnats 
which even got down his throat. On his own land, “a number 
of poor devils — five in all — took their departure homeward 
this morning. They came from home moneyless and brainless, 
and have returned as they came.” 

Another traveler a decade later noted that after passing the 
Wabash “there was a complete departure from all mark of 
civilization.” “These lonely settlers are poorly off,” he added ; 
“their bread-corn must be ground thirty miles off, requiring 
three days to carry to the mill, arfd bring back, the small horse- 
load of three bushels. Articles of family manufacture are very 
scanty, and what they purchase is of the meanest quality and 
excessively dear; yet they are friendly and willing to share 
their simple fare with you. It is surprising how comfortable 
they seem, wanting everything. To struggle with privations 
has now become the habit of their lives, most of them having 
made several successive plunges into the wilderness : and they 
begin already to talk of selling their ‘improvements,’ and get- 
ting still farther ‘back,’ on finding that emigrants of another 
description are thickening about them.” 

The haunting problem was that of a market. The settlers 
could swallow the gnats and drive back the Indians. They 
could fell trees and build their cabins, but money — where 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


150 

could they get money? And money they had to have. Fur- 
niture, tools, books, all the implements of civilization had to 
come from the outer world into their great valley, over the 
mountains or up “the river,” and had to be paid for in goods 
or cash, and even “the river” did not yet afford the outlet to 
a market needed by innumerable small settlers. Money 
almost every one of them needed, too, to pay for the land itself. 
Under the Act of 1800, Eastern speculators had taken up vast 
tracts, twenty thousand to five hundred thousand acres at 
a time, of some of the best lands, and these they sold to settlers 
on credit at prices much above that asked by the government. 

But even if the settler had bought from the government, 
there were the unpaid installments. Without markets the 
best that the farmers could do, as one of them said, was “just 
not to starve.” Default became general. Nearly a third of 
the land originally contracted for was given up, and, speaking 
generally, the entire West was in debt to the East, either to 
individual capitalists or to the government. The government 
did not evict the settlers, and as the more successful farmers 
noted this they began to default, for they could not see why 
they should pay if their neighbor got his land without paying. 
By 1820 the defaulted payments amounted to over $21,000,000. 
The whole situation made for demoralization of financial 
character. Congress tinkered with the law, but so long as the 
East remained in control, there was little hope of seeing the 
West’s demand for free land accepted as a government theory, 
the East insisting that the government should derive a profit 
from the public domain. On the frontier this theory had been 
discarded by 1820. Free land was demanded as a right for the 
man who would settle on it and make it worth something. 
In 1820 an act was passed abolishing the credit system of 
purchase and reducing the price to $1.25 an acre, and a com- 
promise was reached with defaulters by taking from them the 
proportion of land unpaid for and giving a clear title to the 
remainder. The West, however, had been thoroughly and 
bitterly convinced that it was being exploited for the benefit 
of the East. 


THE SUN RISES IN THE WEST 


151 


It had also had an experience with banks which it never 
forgot. The need for cash had been answered by the upspring- 
ing of many small banks, managed, even when honestly, all too 
often by men who knew nothing of the principles of sound 
banking. Farmers went heavily into debt, believing that land 
was bound to rise quickly in price. The panic of 1819 found 
them not only in debt to the East and the government, but to 
their local banks. The whole community was buried three feet 
deep in debt it could not pay. If a mortgage was foreclosed, 
there was no one to buy. Ruin stood sentinel at the door of 
every farmhouse and at the edge of every clearing. Banks 
demanded payment, could get none, and merely maddened 
the people, who stood solidly together in sentiment as they did 
in debt. The banks then failed like corn popping in the fire, 
and the West’s conception of the money power had taken 
definite shape. The Eastern land speculator had demanded 
money ; the government had demanded it ; the merchants had 
demanded it; the banks had demanded it; but if the settlers 
had no market for their surplus products, where were they to 
get it ? The mountain rampart to the eastward made freight 
rates prohibitive. One could float down “the river,” but its 
strong current made getting back almost impossible by pole or 
sail. Two questions were becoming clear. Was the West- 
erner, with his dream of empird, to sink to the level of a serf 
or a peasant, tilling his land for just enough to sustain life and 
to be harassed by his creditors ? With economic democracy 
throughout a vast area and manhood suffrage for national 
affairs, that question had its ominous aspect. Could the Union 
hold together unless the problem of a market for three million 
people could be solved? That meant transportation, and the 
only means of transport f ver known to man, horses on roads or 
sailboats on the water, had both failed. 

fn spite of a large emigration from the Northern Atlantic 
States, particularly to Ohio and the Western Reserve, the 
immigration to the West up to i8ao and even 1830 had been, 
as we have said, chiefly from Virginia and the States farther 
south. Most of the families had come from the Piedmont and 


152 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


frontier sections of the Eastern Southern States, small farmers, 
and this emigration also continued. There was little difference 
between these settlers and those from the North. Most of 
them held no slaves and many were extremely poor. We get 
a glimpse of the latter sort in a note of 1819 which records that 
there passed through Atlanta, “bound for Chatahouchee, a man 
and his wife, his son and wife, with a cart but no horse. The 
man had a belt over his shoulders and he drew in the shafts ; 
the son worked by traces tied to the end of the shafts and 
assisted his father to draw the cart : the son’s wife rode in the 
cart, and the old woman was walking, carrying a rifle and 
driving a cow.” Not many slaves came in at first, and in any 
case the question of slavery was not a sectional one in the West 
for some time. A convention held at Vincennes had petitioned 
the governor of the territory to suspend the prohibition of 
slavery in Indiana so as not to divert Southern settlement to 
Missouri, and as late as 1824 a proposed pro-slavery amend- 
ment in Illinois was defeated by only five to four. 

After the end of the War of 1812, cotton rose as high as 
thirty-four cents a pound, and during that decade there was 
heavy emigration of another sort to the southern part of the 
West. The larger slave owners bought tracts of several thou- 
sand acres each in the belt of rich black soil, and moved out in 
the fashion of the patriarchs df old, with their families, troops 
of slaves, and horses and cattle. For the most part they 
bought land already cleared by the pioneers of the first ad- 
vance, who were pushed farther ahead. . A change was becom- 
ing apparent rather than notable by 1815, and increased from 
then on. In the second advancing battalions of the frontier, 
population increased in both the north and south of the West, 
but in the north it was mainly a white pppulation which built up 
towns where the first pioneers had left hamlets, which founded 
schools, cultivated farms more carefully, and accumulated prop- 
erty. In the southern part, the white population diminished 
rapidly in proportion to the total, and slaves replaced the free 
labor of the first Southern frontiersmen. Instead of towns, plan- 
tations sprang up, requiring ever more land and more slaves. 


THE SUN RISES IN THE WEST 


153 


From the beginning the cotton planter had a sure market for 
his produce, and this was to have an effect we shall note later. 
But in the third and completely settled stage of the West of 
that day there was an even more marked difference between 
the northern and southern sections. The northern towns and 
farms became more prosperous, and a community life of 
prosperous people developed. The southern plantations, on 
the other hand, began to feel the effect of an exhausting single 
crop. The largest owners, many of whom had become absen- 
tees, living in Charleston or Savannah or even in Paris, might 
buy new land farther west and move their plantation almost 
bodily forward, leaving an impoverished community behind 
them ; or, more usually, they would stay on in the old place, 
getting steadily more mired in debt, but keeping up the scale 
of living to which they had been accustomed. 

By 1821 one third of all the cotton raised was on land west of 
Georgia, but no prosperous and populous communities were • 
being built up. The real Southern frontiersmen had this land- 
hungry, plantation economy pushing steadily behind them. 
The “West” in the South was geographically very narrow as 
compared with the North, and when the Southern pioneer had 
been pushed across Louisiana he found himself for the first time 
face to face with the Spaniard.^ Mexico had revolted in 1821 
and declared her independence. In her great province of 
Texas, land could be bought for twelve and one half cents an 
acre, or one tenth what the American government charged, 
and within a decade eighteen or twenty thousand Southern 
pioneers had pressed over the border and were living under 
Mexican rule. The waves of the advancing English had 
finally begun to lap at the doorsills of the Spanish missions. 
On the open plains of Texas the sound of the American axe was 
little heard, and the American, now half farmer, half ranch- 
man, listened with Protestant dislike to the sound of the 
mission bells. Two great racial and religious currents had 
met at last, and began to swirl in dangerous water. 

However different the northern and southern sections of the 
West might be growing from each other, the West as a whole 


154 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


was a unit as compared with North and South in the East. In 
twenty years two million people had shared the experience of 
pioneering. That in itself was a bond as strong as it was 
subtle. The Connecticut Yankee might talk with a nasal 
twang and the neighbor who had trekked over the mountains 
from the upland of Carolina might talk with a drawl, but 
between them was a common bond of a great experience and of 
the acceptance of a mode of life. Debt, hardship, independ- 
ence, a dozen things bound them together and made them 
brothers when contrasted with the Northern merchant or 
Southern planter “ back East.” And the Mississippi, “ the 
river,” “01’ Man River,” bound them again. Back East 
a Yankee farmer never went visiting to a Georgia patch up on 
the mountain side, but up and down “the river” people 
traveled and met and mingled. Life was mobile, free, and 
often lawless. The men of the Western Waters had more than 
Indians and trees to fell, and debts to worry about. Wreckers 
and robbers infested the river towns of the Ohio and the 
Mississippi; the Harpes, Hare, the Masons, “Pluggy” and his 
lieutenant “Nine-Eyes,” among others, were names which 
brought terror to many a home and town. Picturesque and 
villainous, living on horseback or on islands in “the river” 
or in caves in the banks made into fortresses, they brought 
a new element into the complexity of American life. There 
had been plenty of lawbreaking back East, but there, for the 
most part, life had been safe. Life along “the river” was far 
from safe, and the vast stream which welcomed everything, 
clutched at everything, received without a sound many a body 
riddled with holes from ball or knife. 

To go back East was to get into another life, a life of crowded 
population, of drawing-rooms and countingrooms, where the 
poor were quite safe from the assassin but not from the tax 
gatherer, and where the cultivated classes were getting very 
much worried about the threats to their property coming from 
such outlandish communities as Kentucky and Illinois and 
Heaven knew what new States which were being “admitted” 
to outvote them. Besides Kentucky and Tennessee, Ohio had 



THE SUN RISES IN THE WEST 


155 


come in in 1803, Louisiana in 1812, Indiana in 1816, Mis- 
sissippi in 1817, Illinois in 1818, Alabama in 1819 ; and each 
of them had as many Senators as Massachusetts or New York 
or Virginia. What was to be the end of it all President 
Timothy Dwight of Yale College gave full vent to his spleen. 
“The class of pioneers/’ he wrote, “cannot live in regular 
society. They are too idle, too talkative, too passionate, too 
prodigal, and too shiftless to acquire either property or charac- 
ter. They ... grumble about the taxes by which the Rulers, 
Ministers and Schoolmasters are supported. . . . After ex- 
posing the injustice of the community in neglecting to invest 
persons of such superior merit in public offices, in many an 
eloquent harangue uttered by many a kitchen fire, in every 
blacksmith shop, in every corner of the streets, and finding all 
their efforts vain, they become at length discouraged, and under 
pressure of poverty, the fear of the gaol, and consciousness of 
public contempt, leave their native places and betake them- 
selves to the wilderness.” 

Poor Dwight! “Regular society ’’and “the fear of the gaol”! 
It is time we went back over the mountains to see what all this 
was about. “Gaol,” of course, was the prison for poor debtors 
who could not pay, which, with its horrors for the poor, was 
still in vogue in the East; but America was evidently getting 
to be much more complicated than had been the eighteenth- 
century seaboard civilization which had so proudly announced 
to the world that all men were born equal and that all had the 
right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Dwight, 
being related to the half-dozen or dozen families which ruled 
Connecticut, naturally saw things in a different light. To him 
and his like, the American dream was a distressing nightmare. 

New England, and, t® a slightly lesser extent, the Middle 
States, were in the grip of a revolution which was completely 
to alter the life of the sections and set them off in marked con- 
trast to both the South and the West. Manufacturing, as we 
have seen, had made a start in the earlier period, but until the 
Embargo and the War of i8ia the economic life had consisted 
chiefly of small farming and of shipping. Between 1805 and 



THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


156 

the end of the war, shipping had received a series of blows from 
which it was long in recovering. On the other hand, conditions 
fostered the growth of manufacturing at a stupendous rate. 
By 1 8 10 the total value of all manufactured goods had reached 
the figure of at least $ 125 , 000,000 in the United States, mostly 
centred in the Northern States. New England textile mills 
which had been able to use only 500 bales of cotton in 1 800 were 
calling for 90,000 by 1815, and the new industries, like snow- 
balls rolling downhill, kept increasing their size with extraordi- 
nary rapidity. Between 1820 and 1 83 1 in Massachusetts alone, 
the output of the cotton mills rose from ^700,000 to ^7,700,000, 
and of her woolens from $300,000 to ?7, 300, 000. 

Of less immediate importance than such figures, but of 
immense significance for the future of America, was the new 
system introduced by Eli Whitney, who had already pro- 
foundly altered American history by his cotton gin. In fact, 
while history usually deals with political persons, it would be 
hard to find any statesman or politician of his day who has had 
a more lasting influence upon our life than this Yankee inventor. 
Whitney received an order to make muskets for the govern- 
ment during the war. Up to that time a musket, like every- 
thing else, had been made by one man, who did it all from start 
to finish. Whitney, owing to the scarcity of skilled mechanics 
for sudden large-scale production, conceived the idea of having 
each man make one part only, — a much simpler matter to 
learn, — and having all parts interchangeable. It took him 
two years to perfect his system, but once done, the way was 
open to mass production at lower cost. The news of the exploit 
spread over the world, but Europe preferred to continue the 
old craftsman method, for there was no lack of skilled labor 
over there. It has been precisely this lack which has deter- 
mined much in the development of our social and economic life. 

For the first two decades or more of the century, it was still 
an open question whether shipping or manufacturing was the 
more important New England industry, and as their interests 
were naturally opposed, there was confusion in political 
policies. In other respects as well as this, the old solidarity 



THE SUN RISES IN THE WEST 157 

of New England life was breaking down. Population was 
increasing, the best land had long since been preempted, and 
the small farmer, who had been the backbone of New England, 
was suffering. He was either moving West to better and 
cheaper land or becoming a hand in a factory town, although 
for the most part the hands were still women and children. 
There was little in common between the man who had owned 
and worked his own farm and the same man working on low 
wages for a mill owner in one of the new towns fast springing 
up. Many of the young women who went into the mills did 
so for a short time only, to make enough for a small dowry, to 
help pay a mortgage on their father’s farm, or help a brother to 
go to college or to migrate West. In some mills, notably those 
at Lowell, the working conditions were considered excellent for 
that day, though they deteriorated between 1830 and 1840. 
The working hours were often from five in the morning to 
seven at night, and a system of corporation paternalism grew 
up which dictated the time at which the women, who were 
forced to live in the companies’ boarding houses, had to go to 
bed, enforced their attendance at church, and even prescribed 
what church they must subscribe to. Liberty and the pursuit 
of happiness were somehow not progressing under industrialism. 
In spite of the great number who went into the mills, the 
problem of securing a labor supply was always acute. “Our 
greatest difficulty at present,” wrote one mill owner in 183a, 
relating his twenty-five years’ experience, “is a want of females 
— women and children — and from the great number of 
factories now building, [I] have my fears that we shall not be 
able to operate all our machinery another year.” 

If wealth was rapidly accumulating, it was yet more rapidly 
concentrating. The changing conditions which were fostering 
the growth of cities in the North were laying the foundations of 
many of the great fortunes of to-day. The day of the great 
country magnate even in New York was passing, but that of the 
city “landlord” had come. The poorer people, who under 
country conditions had had homes of their own, began to be 
herded into small quarters in the cities in the hope of finding 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


158 

employment. In 1831, miserly old Stephen Girard died in 
Philadelphia, leaving |6,ooo,ooo, but only three years before, 
Mathew Carey had written of how thousands of the poor 
traveled hundreds of miles seeking employment on roads or 
canals at 62 ^ to 87^ cents a day ; how hundreds died annually 
from this work under bad conditions, only to have their places 
taken by others; how the cities had filled with persons who 
could not make more than 35 to 50 cents a day; and how 
“ there is no employment whatever, how disagreeable or loath- 
some, or deleterious soever it may be, or however reduced the 
wages, that does not find persons willing to follow it rather 
than beg or steal.” 

Economic democracy was fast breaking down in the North, 
and the comparative simplicity of an earlier day was passing. 
There had always been some distinction between town and 
country, but the two had formerly merged at a dozen joints, 
and in all of the older towns one had had to walk only a few 
minutes to find one’s self in the country. There had been no 
such difference in the old days as there was now between an 
Astor and a farmer, even though the farmer, as might easily 
have been the case, were better educated than the ignorant 
immigrant who had become the leviathan of American wealth 
and who defied the United States government from his home 
on Broadway. ^ 

There were, however, more hopeful signs. In New England 
the hold of the old Congregational Church was being broken. 
Church and State were at last separated in Connecticut in 1818, 
and in Massachusetts in 1833, This was the outward and 
visible sign of a change that had long been taking place. The 
old Puritan theology and fervor had been dying for many a day. 
Unfortunately, whereas the former fiith had in many cases 
been an effective builder of genuine strength of character, the 
sediment that was deposited when it drained off held chiefly the 
dregs of some of its worst qualities. The two centuries of 
insistence upon certain rigid forms of conduct, and the equal 
insistence upon the duty of the community to be the keeper of 
the conscience of the individual, remained. The Puritan had 



THE SUN RISES IN THE WEST 


159 


possessed some sterling traits. His descendant became mainly 
Puritanical. His belief in himself as the chosen of God lingered 
long after the relationship had probably become repugnant to 
the Deity; it certainly had to the New Englander’s fellow 
citizens in other sections. 

On the other hand, much that was good remained, and was 
to serve as a leaven in the educational and community life of 
many a Western settlement in the wild days ahead. Among 
the more mediocre minds, the belief that it was incumbent on 
them to be missionaries, and the welcome given to every crazy 
doctrine were to strew the country in the next decade with the 
weeds of thought. Among the better minds, by the change 
from Congregationalism to Unitarianism, under the lead of 
Channing, the way was opened to a religion of self-reliance 
and to a broad humanitarianism. Intellectual preparation 
was being made in Boston for that burst of optimism, idealism, 
and a joyous acceptance of life that was to flood the country 
in the next period. As yet, however, the chief signs of a reviv- 
ing life for art and letters were to be found in the coterie 
gathered in New York, with Washington Irving at its head 
and including Cooper, Bryant, and lesser lights. 

While this new life of merchants, manufacturers, bankers, 
literary men, magnates, and proletarians, increasing urbani- 
zation and dwindling agriculture, was rapidly setting the North 
off against the rest of America, conditions were becoming fixed 
and idiosyncratic in the South. The old crops of tobacco, rice, 
and indigo had become completely overshadowed by cotton. 
Only a small percentage of the Southern whites had owned 
slaves, but cotton had opened new visions of riches. Since the 
beginning of the century there had been much to turn our heads 
from the older and slower ways of building up a property. The 
breathless speed at which certain manufactures had grown, the 
easy money to be made in starting banks, the speculation in 
Western lands, the risks of commerce in the war, the rapid rise 
in city real estate as population concentrated, and the effect of 
the cotton gin, had ail been breeding a spirit which demanded 
riches overnight instead of by the efforts of a lifetime of toil. 



i6o 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


In the South everyone turned to cotton. “The lawyer, and 
the doctor, and the school-master, as soon as they earned any 
money, bought land and negroes, and became planters. The 
preacher who married an heiress or rich widow, became owner 
of a plantation. The merchant who wished to retire from the 
perplexities of business ... passed his old age in watching the 
cotton plant spring up from the fresh-plowed ground.” But as 
the slave trade had been prohibited, the price of slaves advanced 
rapidly. The small man was losing his chance to get even 
a start in life. It was estimated in 1839 that a planter could 
get a thousand acres of good cleared cotton land for |ro,ooo, 
but that it would cost him 150,000 to get the slaves to work it. 
Had there been a system of free labor, the initial investment 
would not have been a quarter as much. Once established, 
the cotton planter was caught in an economic system from 
which there was no escape. In bad times he could not, like 
the Northern manufacturer, turn off his hands. They were 
property, and valuable property, which had to be carried at 
any cost short of ruin. 

Across the sea, England was in full tide of industrial revo- 
lution and was becoming the chief manufacturing nation of the 
world. Between 1820 and 1829, production of cotton in the 
South rose from 1 60,000,000 pounds to 365,000,000, a large part 
of the increase being due to westward extension. Of the total 
crop, full four fifths was exported to England and France, less 
than one fifth going to the New England mills. The ships that 
carried the cotton east to Europe preferred to bring freight back 
at any low rate rather than come in ballast, and the conse- 
quence of this vast and assured foreign market was thus to 
flood the South with manufactured goods at prices far below 
those offered by Northern manufact&rers. Not only was the 
South thus building up a culture of its own quite different from 
that of the North and West, but it was becoming detached 
from the Northern sections in its whole economic life, Europe 
being the market in which it both bought and sold to the 
extent of about 80 per cent. 

Slaves had begun to seem as vital to the Southern plantation 



THE SUN RISES IN THE WEST 


i6i 

as machines in a Northern factory, and as the steady press west- 
ward of the Southern economic system met the border line of 
Texas, it was diverted northward much as a glacier meeting an 
immovable obstacle. Only those who did not mind becoming 
Mexican expatriates trickled through. The West was still set 
off against the North and South, but its southern part was 
becoming slave. The first rumbling of the inevitable conflict 
was heard with the controversy over admitting Missouri as 
a slave State in 1819. Slave and free States had been admitted 
alternately, and there were eleven of each, giving the two 
econonlic systems equal power in the Senate. Missouri, how- 
ever, lay north of the line which had hitherto tacidy been 
accepted as marking the northern limits of slavery, and the 
North was thrown into ferment by what seemed a new aggres- 
siveness on the part of the expanding Cotton Kingdom. The 
matter was finally settled by the “Missouri Compromise,” by 
which Maine and Missouri were both admitted, one as free and 
one as slave, with the prohibition of any extension of slavery 
in the Louisiana Purchase north of latitude 36° 30'. John 
Quincy Adams, with perfect clarity of vision, read in the 
words of the Compromise the “title-page to a great, tragic 
volume.” 

By 1820 there were thus coming into clear alignment three 
sections, the industrial North, the Cotton Kingdom of the 
South, and the West, now narrowing somewhat to mean the 
part north of the new line. Of these, it was in the West alone 
that the old economic democracy of pre-Revolutionary days 
still survived and that the Declaration of Independence was 
still a living gospel for nearly all classes. It was the beating 
heart of America. Were the functions and interests of each of 
these sections to prove irreconcilable with those of the others ? 
Was the force of nationalism or of sectionalism to prove the 
stronger ? 

We have already spoken of the Intense need of the West for 
markets and transportation, and the apparent absence of any 
solution to the problem. With the increase in industrialism 
and the decrease In agriculture, the North needed a market 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


162 

also, and likewise food. One problem could be solved if the 
two sections could be linked. Invention and daring both 
came to aid. Since the Roman days of roads made of large 
blocks of stone, most roads on both sides of the ocean had been 
mere dirt tracks in which wagons could be mired to the hubs 
in bad weather. About 1800, the Scotchman McAdam experi- 
mented with crushed stone for a surface, and the success of his 
work made the greatest advance in rural communication until 
the Ford car. The invention came just in time for the West. 
The Cumberland Road, following the route of an old Indian 
trail, was begun before the war and completed from Pennsyl- 
vania to Wheeling by 1820, at a cost of a million and a half, 
provided by Congress. Its solid construction and fine surface 
at once made it the main entry to the West, but although it 
served splendidly for communication and as a link, it had not 
solved the problem of freight. 

Another invention, however, came to the assistance of 
American nationalism. Although John Fitch had built a 
steamboat as early as 1787, the first successful one was that 
built by Robert Fulton twenty years later. A new era opened 
for America, East and West, when the Clermont puffed its 
way laboriously against the current of the Hudson. Within 
two years Nicholas Roosevelt of New York was in Pitts- 
burgh looking over the probfem of Western river navigation. 
The next year he was back again, and a steamboat a hundred 
and sixteen feet long, costing $30,000, was launched from a 
Pittsburgh yard. Having descended the Mississippi, it turned 
northward again and demonstrated that here at last was some- 
thing that would go up stream as well as down. The old 
flatboats and rafts for floating down “the river” continued 
long in use, one traveler encountering two thousand of them 
in a twenty-five days’ trip in 1816, but this was a one-way 
traffic. 

It was a business, however, on all the Western waters, and 
one which, like all the many varied occupations of Americans, 
bred its own characters. The boatman had become a type 
and had his songs as well as the old French voyageur. The 



THE SUN RISES IN THE WEST 163 

woods along the shores which had echoed back a few genera- 
tions earlier the . 

“ Fringue, fringue sur la riviere,” 
now resounded to 

“The boatman is a lucky man, 

No one can do as the boatman can, 

The boatmen dance and the boatmen sing. 

The boatman is up to everything. 

Hi-O, away we go. 

Floating down the river on the 0-hi-o !” 

Much experimenting and many disappointments were still in 
store before the great period of steamboating on “the river” 
was to form such a picturesque chapter in American life, but 
at least the prospect had been opened of an inward as well as 
an outward movement of freight for the West. Until the 
Civil War, New Orleans disputed the position of leading port 
with New York, and would have easily eclipsed it had it not 
been for the greatest engineering feat Americans had yet 
undertaken. 

It was all very well to have steamboats beginning to pit their 
strength against that of “OF Man River,” but that did not 
avail to link the West any closer to the East, though it did help 
the unity of the former section. In 1810 itcost I125 to carry 
a ton of freight by wagon from Rhiladelphia to Pittsburgh, and 
$100 to move a ton from Buffalo to New York. Canals had 
been talked about by many, but Governor De Witt Clinton of 
New York turned dream into reality against scoffing and 
skepticism. On the Fourth of July, 1817, he dug a shovelful 
of earth, and the work on the Erie Canal, from the Hudson 
to Lake Erie, was begun. In eight years the long trench, three 
hundred and sixty-three miles, had been dug at the then 
stupendous cost of over $j,ooo,ooo, an amount, however, 
which was more than repaid by tolls in the first decade of 
operation. 

The effect was amazing. Clinton, like Whitney, had had 
more influence on the development of the country than 99 per 
cent of the statesmen in Washington. There had been speeches 


i64 the epic of AMERICA 

in Congress nearly as long as the Canal, but the Canal ac- 
complished what they did not. The time of travel from 
Buffalo to New York was reduced from twenty days to six, 
and the cost of moving a ton of freight from one hundred dollars 
to five. In one month of the first year, 837 barges left Albany 
for Buffalo. Eastern-manufactured goods poured westward; 
Western farm products poured eastward. Even Western 
lumber could now be shipped profitably. New England 
potatoes, at seventy-five cents a bushel, were crowded out by 
“Chenangoes” at half that price. Flour manufactured on 
Lake Erie water fronts could be shipped via New York to the 
Carolinas at less than $1.50 a barrel freight. The West could 
at last buy and sell to the East. New England farms were 
abandoned in large numbers, and hustling towns sprang up in 
western New York, Ohio, and further West. The West was 
linked to the East not at Charleston, Baltimore, or Philadel- 
phia, but at New York. The Cumberland and other roads 
could not compete with the all-water route, and in ten years 
from i8ao the real and personal property of New York City 
leaped from $70,000,000 to $125,000,000. 

Boston, over two hundred miles overland east of Albany, was 
out of the picture altogether as an entrepot for Western business. 
Other canals elsewhere were projected and partly built. 
Philadelphia and Baltimore struggled valiantly to regain their 
lost position, but there was no other such passage through the 
mountain barrier as was afforded by the Hudson-Mohawfc 
Valleys. New York was to remain supreme on the Atlantic 
seaboard. The incomes of its merchants shot up and they 
themselves could afford to become more exclusive socially. 
But out on the long waterway the bargemen whom the new 
business had brought into being were^ singing, the words com- 
ing, as those of folk songs always do, from nowhere: — 

“ I Ve got a mule, her name is Sal, 

Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal. 

She ’s a good old worker and a good old pal. 

Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal. 

Low bridge, evVybody down ! 

Low bridge, for we ’re going through a town, 




If you Ve ever navlgatt^ on the Erie Canal.” 

It is true that the West was now linked economically with the 
East. De Witt Clinton had knocked a wide door through the 
wall which had separated them. The Mississippi Valley was 
no longer an enclosed empire which could trade with the world 
only down “the river.” Other doors, though not so wide as 
the Erie Canal, were being opened. But, on the other hand, 
the interests of the West were not those of the East, and the 
contending forces of sectionalism and nationalism were far from 
having reached a point of equilibrium. The Western farmer 
was not to be a European peasant ; this much had been settled ; 
but he was a debtor and a citizen. He was inevitably opposed 
to his Eastern creditors and might be to his other fellow citizens. 

Little by little, the Federal government had been growing 
more like the vision of Hamilton and less like that of Jefferson. 
Jefferson himself had, by force of circumstance, given it an 
impetus in that direction when, wisely allowing the practical 
needs of statesmanship to overrule the theory of the political 
thinker, he had forced the western half of the Mississippi 
Valley down the throat of a Constitution which had never been 
designed to receive it. Jefferson had a fit of mental indigestion 
over it, but the Constitution didliot. Louisiana slipped down 
perfectly easily. 

In session after session of the Supreme Court in Washington, 
Chief Justice Marshall was handing down decisions, five hun- 
dred and nineteen of which were written by himself, in which he 
steadily strengthened and extended the powers of the Federal 
government as against both the people and the States. In 
phrases which have be^n quoted innumerable times. Lord 
Bryce wrote of him that “the Constitution seemed not so much 
to rise under his hands to its full stature, as to be gradually 
unveiled by him till it stood revealed in the harmonious per- 
fection of the form which its framers had designed.” It would 
be more accurate, perhaps, to say some of its framers. At any 
rate, the Constitution owes nearly as much to the interpretation 


i66 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


of the great Chief Justice as to its original authors ; and it 
certainly became much less the instrument which, wisely or 
unwisely, a large proportion, if not a majority, of the people 
who had originally consented to it would have desired. 

The attitude in favor of “loose” or “strict” construction of 
its clauses — that is, of nationalism versus States’ rights — 
was gradually altering according to sectional economic interest. 
It is quite unnecessary to go the full length of the economic 
school of historians, who can see 'nothing but the economic 
motive in history, to allow that such a motive is extremely 
potent. It has always been so in the political history of our 
own country. 

Whitney had given the Southerners the cotton gin. The gin 
had fastened cotton on them as the chief mode of economic 
exploitation of the resources of their section. Cotton had 
fastened slavery on the black, and the black on the back of the 
white. Slavery was the institution of a section, and that 
section was in constant and increasing danger of being out- 
voted in Congress, owing to the disproportionate increase of 
population in other sections. If additional power were given 
to the Federal government it would be more and more danger- 
ous to their “peculiar institution” to be a minority. Safety 
thus lay in limiting the powers of the Federal government over 
the States. It was clear as^ a proposition in Euclid. The 
South in self-defense was bound to stand more and more for 
strict construction and States’ rights, in what was, after all, 
a matter of opinion and interpretation. 

The North was in process of transition. Nullification and 
talk of secession had been rife in New England for the first 
decade and a half of the century, but now manufacturing, 
which was hungry for tariffs and ^special favors from the 
government, was competing with shipping, which thrived on 
free trade. The leader of the section, Daniel Webster, was to 
register clearly in the shifts of his own opinions the money 
interests of his constituents. 

The West, almost from the start, had been the creature of the 
national government. Its States had not been independent 


THE SUN RISES IN THE WEST 167 

before the Union, as had those of the East. They had mostly 
been carved out of the national domain first as territories, then 
as States. Moreover, the West cared little for finespun theories 
of government. It had its idealism of individualism and free- 
dom, but was also practical enough in calling for economic help 
from whatever source could supply it, and the natural source 
to which it looked was the national government in Washington. 
The immediate relation of the Westerner to the government 
was far more direct than that of the citizen of any other 
section, for in most cases even the title to his home, not always 
settled, came to him straight from the government of the United 
States. For the Easterner the government was something 
aloof from his daily concerns except on election days or when 
the tax gatherer came around. For the Westerner it was the 
rock on which his home was built or a landlord whom he was 
fighting. Roads, canals, internal improvements of all sorts, 
were essential to the existence and growth of the section. It 
demanded that the government supply them. 

For a while Congress lent willing ear. As we have seen, it 
had built the Cumberland Road, but it began to have doubts as 
to whether it could constitutionally appropriate the money to 
maintain it. In 18 1 6 it chartered the second Bank of the 
United States, and passed a tariff bill, but President Monroe 
and the South and North had, severally, constitutional doubts 
and sectional reasons for calling a halt on Western demands. 
The South, hoping to build up domestic manufactures, had 
voted for the tariff ; New England, the shipowners still being 
able to outvote the manufacturers, had voted against it; but 
a reversal of sectional interests in that respect was to come in 
another dozen years, and although Northern manufacturers 
were to welcome tariffs 5,hey began to balk at internal improve- 
ments for the West. 

After a long series of international complications running all 
the way from England, and the Holy Alliance in Europe, over 
South America, and up to Russia in Alaska, with all of which 
the Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams, had been coping 
with distinguished ability. President Monroe in his annual 


i68 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


message in 1823 had announced the doctrine which has ever 
since borne his name. Briefly stated, this was to the efl^ect that 
whereas the political systems of Europe and America were 
different and we would not interfere in the internal affairs of 
the old continent, neither would we consider the New World 
hereafter as a sphere for European colonization or permit 
European powers to extend their system hither. It was 
a gesture, but a gesture that emphatically meant not only 
that we had seceded entirely from Europe, but that we had 
embarked on a policy of the Americas for the Americans. 
Although the public had been unaware of the dramatic inci- 
dents that had led to its enunciation, it was well received by 
the people and strengthened the feeling of Americanism and 
nationalism. We intended to keep forever out of Europe and 
to keep Europe out of the New World. The doctrine became 
almost as deeply imbedded in our minds as the Declaration 
of Independence. 

It was indicative both of the growth of the West and of its 
inherent nationalism that the political thinker who at this time 
brought forward the only plan for overcoming the growing 
sectionalism was Henry Clay of Kentucky. His plan, which 
came to be known as “the American System,” was simple 
enough in broad outline, and was based on the old Hamiltonian 
doctrines. Clay, however, waS a popular orator in a day when 
the American loved oratory and hailed every speaker as a 
Cicero or a Demosthenes. Clay had a power of cogent pres- 
entation that had been denied to the logical but boringly 
diffuse Hamilton, and protectionists since the day of Clay 
have merely rung the changes on his speech of March 30, 1824. 

Clay’s economic policy was distinctly American and national. 
In the three sections of the country, he saw a North which was 
becoming predominantly industrial and manufacturing, and 
a South and West that were overwhelmingly agricultural, but 
both of which had some nascent manufactures. The panic of 
1819 had laid the country, particularly the West, prostrate. 
Clay saw an increasing agricultural surplus, as the country grew, 
which would be unsalable in Europe, and he saw the West’s 



169 


THE SUN RISES IN THE WEST 

need of internal improvements. As a means of making us 
independent of Europe and of bringing the three sections into 
economic and political harmony, he proposed a protective 
tariff that would greatly increase American manufactures, and 
provide money for roads, canals, and other improvements. He 
counted on the industrial sections being pleased with the pro- 
tection afforded, the West with the improvements it demanded, 
and the agricultural sections to be made generally prosperous 
by the market for their produce that he believed would come 
with the increase of the industrial population. The need for 
a market for the West had become painfully clear. Corn was 
selling at Cincinnati at eight cents a bushel and wheat at 
twenty-five. But New England merchants still outvoted the 
manufacturers, and Webster made a powerful speech against 
the measure in Congress, while the South condemned it as a 
“combination of the wealthy against the poor” — that is, of 
the Northern manufacturer against the Southern planter. 
Clay carried the bill through by a vote of 107 to 102, but the 
sectional nature of what he had hoped would be an “American 
System” was clear. New England cast 15 votes for and 23 
against; the Southern West, 13 and 7; while the Northern 
West was solidly in favor. Four years later, when a new 
tariff bill came up, the New England manufacturers had won 
their local struggle, and Daniel Webster thundered as power- 
fully for the “Tariff of Abominations” as he had against the 
earlier and less “abominable” one. The measure was carried 
by all sections except the South, which, under the lead of 
South Carolina, was so incensed that it threatened nullification, 
boycott of Northern goods, secession, and even armed resist- 
ance. 

The West had produced a national leader and a political 
thinker who had outgrown the frontier, but the West itself had 
not yet done so. In the election of 1824 there was no party 
issue. The Federalist Party was completely disrupted and all 
four candidates for the Presidency were Republicans, the three 
geographical sections being represented by John Quincy Adams 
of Massachusetts, William H. Crawford of Georgia, Andrew 


170 


THE EPIC OF AMER] C ^ 


Jackson of Tennessee, and Henry Clay of Kentucky. It is 
notable that the West had two candidates, and that the South 
produced one from the Cotton Kingdom instead of any suc- 
cessor to the “Virginia Dynasty.” Adams, having been 
Secretary of State, would according to precedent have been 
the next President, but precedents were failing, and Adams, 
one of the ablest men the country has ever produced, was 
austere, wholly independent, and refused a single concession to 
political chicanery or mob popularity. Crawford had no 
chance from the start, and the West could have elected Clay 
had it stood by him. That section, however, preferred action 
and emotion to thought and logic, and voted overwhelmingly 
for the dueling, swashbuckling hero, “Old Hickory.” Clay did 
not get a single electoral vote from over the mountains except 
in Kentucky, Missouri, and Ohio. When the votes were 
counted, Jackson had 99 and Adams 84, whereas Crawford, 
who suffered a paralytic stroke, had 41 and Clay only 37. No 
one having been elected, the choice was thrown into the House 
of Representatives, Clay having there the power to elect either 
of his opponents. His choice fell on Adams as the abler man 
and the one whose policies were nearer to his own. The West 
had not won the Presidency, but it had made a President. 

Adams had been elected by a section, but he tried to carry 
out his policies without a thouglit of party or personal political 
profit. These policies included internal improvements on a 
considerable scale, and the devotion as well of public funds to 
educational and scientific purposes, all in advance of his time. 
The South feared for its slaves in a loose-construction theory of 
the Constitution; the West haw-hawed at the “intellectual” 
President; party leaders, looking toward the next election, 
saw the impossibility of a man who would not cater to hungry 
claimants for political favors ; Adams was aloof, and doomed. 
In spite of it all, in 1828 he polled 40 per cent of the popular 
vote, but the South and West beat him heavily. Adams had 
stood by Jackson when he had raided East Florida, and finally 
by diplomacy, in 1819, Adams had won that new bit of terri- 
tory for us from Spain ; but Jackson had done the fighting, and 



THE SUN RISES IN THE WEST 


171 

anyway he was the sort of man who would be popular with 
those who liked that sort of man. The West assuredly did; 
the South was afraid of Adams, ‘the North, and loose con- 
struction; and Jackson was easily elected. For .the first time 
a man of the Western Waters journeyed to Washington to take 
his place in the White House. 

The democratic elements of the nation had brought about 
a mild revolution in 1800 when they elected Jefferson in order 
to swing the government back to 'the Americanism of the 
frontier and the simple citizen, and to stem the tide of Hamil- 
tonianism and Federalism, with their emphasis on privileges 
and the rich. That movement of revolt, however, was slight 
as compared with the revolution of i 858 . We have merely to 
contrast the type of Jackson with that of the preceding Presi- 
dents — Washington, John Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Mon- 
roe, and John Quincy Adams — to realize that new forces 
would have to be taken into consideration in American life. 
The scenes at the White House after his inauguration were 
accepted as a portent, and the crowds who thronged the city 
to see the man of the people placed in power were likened to 
the barbarians pouring into Rome. “It was the people’s 
day,”. wrote an eyewitness, “the people’s President, and the 
people would rule.” A disorderly mob crushed their way into 
the White House, stood on the satin furniture, smashed china 
and glass in their rush for refreshments. In the press, the 
President himself was nearly suffocated against a wall and had 
to be rescued. Tubs and buckets of punch were placed outside 
on the grounds in the hope of keeping some of the mob out of 
the house, but they continued to surge at the doors, and those 
inside could not escape until the windows were opened and the 
rooms cleared by using ■them as exits. To dwell on this aspect 
of what was in reality a great movement would be unfair. 

The election had been a victory not merely for a section, 
but for a class. By 1825 every Northern State had finally 
provided for manhood suffrage, and Jackson had been the 
choice of many of the laboring and small-farmer class in the East 
as well as the overwhelming choice of the West. Ignorant as 



172 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


they were compared with the richer Eastern classes, it was 
these people who had kept the principles of the Declaration of 
Independence and the Revolution in their hearts. American- 
ism in those days had assuredly meant more than mere secession 
from the British Empire. The common man had believed, 
and been taught to believe, that it meant a new hope for him, 
an opening of the door of opportunity for all, a recognition of 
his rights as a man — not simply as an owner of property — to 
life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. He had watched 
with growing resentment what seemed to him the closing of 
doors upon him, the rise of privileged classes, and the increasing 
difficulty or inability for himself to reap profit and benefit from 
his toil. He feared a leader from a class which he instinctively 
felt could not or would not sympathize with his own troubles 
and ideals. He sought a leader of his own sort, and as the 
West was the heart of this Americanism, it was there that he 
was found. 

But if moving on from frontier line to frontier line had 
stirred the wits of the settlers in some respects, their experi- 
ences had nothing to give them more than the old parochial 
view of politics which had been held by the men of the towns 
and parishes of the East. Their contacts with the world at 
large were so negligible, the problems of their small com- 
munities were so standardized and simple, that they could see 
few difficulties in the way of being provided with what they 
wished by government. The American doctrine had de- 
veloped, through the long training of the common man in 
local politics, that anyone could do anything. Just as he had 
learned to become a Jack-of-all-trades himself in his daily life, 
without special training, he could see no reason why public 
office called for particular qualities o» experience. The fact 
that men had had to turn their hands to everything in com- 
munities where life was reduced to its simplest terms, and 
where there was little division of labor, had tended not only to 
self-confidence, which was admirable, but to a lowering of the 
quality of work and thought. Superficiality had inevitably 
resulted from enforced versatility. Both the demand for 



THE SUN RISES IN THE WEST 


173 


a high quality and the need for technical training ceased to be 
felt. Jackson voiced the almost universal sentiment among his 
supporters when he declared that “ the duties of all public offices 
are, or at least admit of being, made so plain and simple that 
men of intelligence may readily qualify themselves for their per- 
formance.” Mediocrity is one of the prices paid for complete 
equality, unless the people themselves can rise to higher levels. 

The Jacksonian movement of revolt, like most of those 
which deeply stir humanity, was one of aspiration, not of 
intellect. The men of the West wanted a leader who would 
appeal to all of their instincts and traits, not to their minds. 
The frontier bred equalitarianism, it is true, but at the same 
time a swaggering individualism. Life had a terrific sameness 
for all, which made each individual fear to be different, and yet 
from which he would fain escape by asserting himself. The 
frontiersman refused to admit that anyone was better than 
himself, and at the same time, with the ancient instinct of 
human nature, would stick through thick and thin to a leader. 
Such a leader, however, must have the frontiersman’s own 
traits glorified, not those of another group. The West agreed 
with Henry Clay’s doctrine of an “American System” as 
meeting the needs of his section, but the Westerner was not 
a thinker and could not give his allegiance to one. In Jack- 
son he found the man he needed. At once a born frontiers- 
man, an Indian fighter, duelist, equalitarian, and strong 
individualist, the conqueror of the British at New Orleans, 
the man who without a thought of constitutional or inter- 
national difficulties had marched into Florida and seized it, a 
man of almost superhuman strength of will, of sterling honesty, 
uneducated, but with often uncanny good judgment and happy 
intuition, Jackson provided just the figure the ignorant but 
hero-loving and idealistic masses could cling to. Tall, lank, 
raw-boned, picturesque, fearless, honest, stubborn, his legend 
crossed the mountains as “Old Hickory,” and the revolution 
was accomplished. 

There has never been a more devoted patriot than the man 
he defeated, but the lofty vision of Americanism in the mind of 



174 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


John Quincy Adams was not the Americanism of the masses. 
He thought too much in terms of the “superior” man in the 
best sense of the adjective rather than of the “common” man. 
Adams did not represent riches, but he did represent intel- 
lectual and moral integrity of the highest type. The common 
man cared nothing for these. Intellectual integrity was an 
unmeaning phrase to him, and his morality easily included 
fighting the devil with fire and rewarding one’s friends with 
public office. At the low end of both the economic and the 
intellectual scale, his material needs bulked large. But he also 
had his idealism. He did not seek to plunder the rich. What 
he asked was what he thought America stood for — opportunity, 
the chance to grow into something bigger and finer, as bigger 
and finer appeared to him. He did not envisage America as 
standing for wealth only, and certainly not as standing for 
culture ; still more certainly not as a reproduction of European 
classes and conditions. Somewhat vaguely he envisaged it as 
freedom and opportunity for himself and those like him to rise. 

Perhaps his Americanism was a dream, but it was a great 
dream. The common man had dreamed it in 1776 and hoped 
he had brought it into being. After a quarter of a century of 
uneasiness over its passing, he had stirred himself and sought 
to recapture it under Jefferson. Now, more than a quarter of 
a century later, he had made another effort to realize it. We 
shall see him do it twice again, before our story ends with its 
final question. If Americanism in the above sense has been 
a dream, it has also been one of the great realities in American 
life. It has been a moving force as truly as wheat or gold. 
It is all that has distinguished America from a mere quanti- 
tative comparison in wealth or art or letters or power with the 
nations of old Europe. It is Americanism, and its shrine has 
been in the heart of the common man. He may not have done 
much for American culture in its narrower sense, but in its 
wider meaning it is he who almost alone has fought to hold fast 
to the American dream. This is what has made the common 
man a great figure in the American drama. This is the domi- 
nant motif in the American epic. 



THE NORTH BEGINS TO HUSTLE 

Between 1830 and 1850 the two great obvious changes in the 
country were the industrialization of the North and the 
expansion of the West, the South continuing but little altered. 
Although manufacturing had got a good start in the North 
during the Embargo and the War of 1 8 1 2, it was, as we have 
seen, not until the Tariff of 1828 that capital in New England 
had swung over to the factory from the ship to such an extent 
as to enable the manufacturer to outvote the merchant. From 
that time on, the character of the North was settled, and we 
watch the rise of fortunes, of a foreign population, of a per- 
manent wage-earning class. 

Until the various financial Acts of Hamilton in connection 
with the establishment of the national government, “property” 
in America had, to an overwhelming extent, meant investment 
in land. This had involved two points : first, the fact that the 
sort of property owned by nearly all, rich and poor, was of the 
same sort; and, second, the fact that its ownership entailed 
a certain sense of responsibility. With the rise of speculation 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


176 

and investment in government and other Securities at the end 
of the eighteenth century, this responsibility tended to evapo- 
rate. The owner of a boxful of papers was far less hampered 
in his relations both to his property and to his community than 
was the large planter of the South or the small farmer of the 
North and West. His methods of accumulation and the 
amount of his wealth were much less open to public knowledge 
and scrutiny. His occupations and daily life, so different from 
those of either farmer or planter, bred a different set of qualities. 
The trader who dealt in securities or who turned over real 
estate quickly in rapidly growing towns had no need of such 
qualities as made the New England farmer or such a Southern 
planter as Washington. His personal interests often became 
disassociated from those of his fellow citizens, and even inimical 
to them. Human nature being what it is, he would, con- 
sciously or not, tend to view the public interest in the light of 
his own, just as Daniel Webster, the greatest statesman New 
England has produced, could turn a somersault on the tariff 
question when the economic interest of his constituents 
changed. 

Had the growing moneyed class been able to exert their 
influence only by speech or writing or casting their solitary 
ballots, they would not have made much difference in the 
country. Their comparative* numbers were very small, and 
they might have entertained any views they chose as to the 
American dream. That, however, was not the case. No man 
can make a fortune by himself. He has to depend in part 
either on his neighbors making it for him, — as for example in 
the unearned increment he derives from the increasing value of 
land, — or he has to employ the labor of others, reserving for 
himself, in return for his own capital and services, a portion of 
the return from the labor of each of his serfs, slaves, or work- 
men. The fact that an individual is shrewd or unscrupulous 
enough to avail himself largely of these means should not blind 
us to the fact that he has not made his money solely by himself. 
He owes the greater part of it to his fellows. 

We are here concerned only with the effect of the capitalists’ 



THE NORTH BEGINS TO HUSTLE 


177 


having used the labor of others. There is both an economic 
and a political question for us in this. The first is. In what 
proportions should the surplus of labor be distributed between 
the capitalist and the laborer? The second. What sort of 
character for citizenship is evolved in the wage earner as con- 
trasted with that of the man who works for himself? So far 
in our history we have settled the first chiefly by force, and 
dodged the second. 

As we have seen, Jefferson, the apostle of the American 
dream, did not believe in the possibility of realizing it except 
in a country in which the vast bulk of citizens were independent 
farmers, owning their own farms. He believed very firmly 
that a great self-governing democracy could not survive the 
rise of a town, wage-earning proletariat. So far as our story 
has gone, the Jeffersonian democracy was safe. We have seen 
that its believers had risen twice to repel what they had felt 
to be attacks on it, and had elected Jefferson himself in 1800 
and Jackson in 182,8. Because economic and political democ- 
racy had advanced together, it was still assumed, putting the 
cart before the horse, that economic democracy was the result 
of political, and that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness 
— in a word, “opportunity” in its widest sense — would be 
assured to the people at large by manhood suffrage. In 1840, 
out of a total working population of 4,800,000, over 3,700,000 
were still engaged in agriculture. The next largest figure, that 
of nearly 800,000 in manufacturing, was, however, becoming 
ominous, especially as more than 520,000 of these were con- 
centrated in the Northern States. 

It had been becoming increasingly clear that the oppor- 
tunities for making large individual fortunes in that section 
centred in the factory. ^Large-scale agriculture was out of 
the question; turnpikes, canals, the new railroads, banks, 
city real estate, might create wealth quickly, but they all 
depended on increase of goods and population. Manufactur- 
ing was the key to both of these. But manufacturing required 
labor, and the creation of large private fortunes required the 
profits from a great deal of labor or the unearned increment 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


178 

arising from the esfForts of others. Astor, in New York, what 
with his fur trading, his city real estate, and deals of one sort 
and another, was setting the pace. As with Ford and Rocke- 
feller to-day, his fortune towered above those of other business 
men of his time, but when he died in 1848 and left $20,000,000 
he showed the business men what “success” might mean. 
The great fortunes of the early Republic, such as those of 
Hancock and Washington, had amounted to a few hundred 
thousand. The pace had been immensely quickened. 

The problem was labor. Machinery, markets, transporta- 
tion, were now ready. But fortunes could not be made without 
hands who would work for wages. Not only was the supply 
of native American women and children inadequate, but, as 
the mill owners became more rapacious and the conditions of 
work less attractive, the native Ameridan was largely driven 
out of the factories. Although at first girls had come in 
willingly from the farms to work for a few years, by 1846 we 
read that “a long, low, black wagon, termed a ‘slaver,’ makes 
trips to the north of the state [Massachusetts], cruising around 
in Vermont and New Hampshire, with a commander who is 
paid one dollar a head for all [the girls] he brings to market and 
more in proportion to the distance — if they bring them from 
a distance they cannot easily get back.” Although a few of 
the mill owners, notably sofiie at Lowell, were high-minded 
men who did their best to maintain decent conditions for their 
employees against the pressure of their greedy competitors, the 
whole situation radically altered in manufacturing between 
1830 and 1850. 

The pre-Revolutionary immigrants who had come in floods 
in the middle of the eighteenth century had almost all gone on 
to the land, and their families had now been in America for 
nearly a century. They were thorough Americans who 
insisted on American standards and conditions. Since that 
great movement had spent its force, there had been com- 
paratively little immigration. From the first census in 1790 
to 1825, the inward flow of foreigners averaged only about 
8000 a year at all ports, and these were easily absorbed. From 



THE NORTH BEGINS TO HUSTLE 


179 


1825, however, the numbers increased annually almost without 
a break, from 10,000 in that year to nearly 300,000 in 1849, 
most of them coming into Northern ports. From about 1830 
the employer of labor found himself in possession of about 

50.000 possible new hands a year. After another decade this 
had risen to over 100,000, and when the famine in Ireland had 
done its worst, immigration jumped to between 250,000 and 

300.000 annually. Here at last was what the manufacturer 
had been looking for. At the end of the period, the abortive 
revolutionary movements on the continent sent a good many 
educated Germans to us, but for the most part the immigrants 
who came were extremely poor and ignorant. They had fled 
from unbearable poverty at home, and had expended every- 
thing they had merely to get here. To them America was a 
land of promise, the one hope left in the world. America was, 
indeed, a land of promise, but its Eastern section was not so 
indubitably one for a poor man. Among the economically 
lower classes many people were fleeing from it as fast as they 
could. By 1850 over 16 per cent of all persons born in the 
Eastern and Middle States, and nearly 27 per cent of those 
born in the Southern States, had gone westward. Again, in 
the same year, more than 50,000 persons, almost all in the 
East, were paupers, and 135,000 were supported in whole or in 
part by the State. More than 66,000 of the latter and about 

37.000 of the former were not immigrants, but native-born 
Americans. 

The earlier Irish who came were mostly put to spade work, 
and to a considerable extent they dug our canals and laid down 
our railroads. The native American brought up on a farm — 
Jefferson’s good citizen — had an inborn dislike for working 
for someone else. He had a proper and instinctive dread of 
losing his independence and the full stature of his manhood. 
Rather than fall to that, he preferred, if he could, to move West 
and begin again as his own man. He had not had in the past, 
however, any feeling that manual work was beneath his 
dignity as an American. No European race has any such 
feeling to-day, and, much to their advantage in every way, the 



i8o THE EPIC OF AMERICA 

English, French, Germans, Italians, and Spanish perform all 
the duties in their civilizations from the bottom to the top. 
The immigrant who came to America was greatly looked down 
upon, because of his strangeness, frequent uncouthness, and 
low standard of living. As he took the low-paid manual jobs 
working for other men, which the American had declined not 
on the score of their being manual but because of their being 
for others, the contempt for the foreigner began to be trans- 
ferred to the work he did, and the American began to establish 
his tradition that the work, as well as the foreigner doing it, 
was beneath him. As shoals of Irish women became household 
servants, the feeling came to include domestic service. In this 
respect, and most unfortunately, the despised foreigner in the 
North fed the same superiority-complex tendency in the devel- 
opment of our psychology as did the negro slave in the South. 

The negro slave had at least one great advantage over the 
Northern factory worker. He was property, and had to be 
taken care of. What the Northern manufacturer considered 
his property was the mill with its machinery, and he came to 
care no more for the worker than for the bale of cotton. The 
few mill owners who wished to be fair to their employees had 
to meet the fierce competition of the unscrupulous. It was 
characteristic of a good deal to come in our life that the “Ameri- 
can System” of Henry Clay was maintained by the manu- 
facturers as a “system,” but with no regard for the individuals 
to whom alone any system could mean anything. Like our 
modern “efficiency,” it forgot the man. The manufacturers 
did indeed manufacture goods, and so increased population 
and provided a market for agricultural products. For this 
they demanded “protection” and other special favors from the 
national government, but they cared not a rap as to what they 
were doing to Americans as human beings. Prices to the con- 
sumer, on the one hand, were raised as high as the special 
privileges secured would permit; and, on the other, the native 
American working class was beaten down in the economic 
scale as low as possible. The manufacturer was enabled to do 
this by using the club of cheap immigrant labor. 



THE NORTH BEGINS TO HUSTLE 


i8i 

Recovery from the disastrous panic of 1837 was slow, but in 
another half-dozen years the mills were making very large 
profits. By 1845, for example, the Nashua and Jackson mills 
were paying 24 per cent in dividends, and many were returning 
heavily on watered stock. Meanwhile, wages had been largely 
reduced and production speeded up. A girl was expected to 
handle machinery doing nearly four times as much work in the 
late 1840’s as compared with little more than a decade pre- 
viously. In the Middle States a ten-hour day had been 
secured in many lines of work, but New England still clung 
to twelve or fourteen. It was there contended that “the 
morals of the operatives will necessarily suffer if longer absent 
from the wholesome discipline of factory life ” ! Could Puritan 
hypocrisy go farther ? The legislature was assured that if it 
lowered the hours of work no limit could be placed to the evils of 
misspent time by thus leaving the operatives “ to their will and 
liberty.” As the mills and factories increased in size, and the 
mill towns grew in population, both hygienic and social con- 
ditions became worse. A petition to the Massachusetts 
Legislature in 1842 declared that “the population of manu- 
facturing places are now, in great measure, dependent for the 
means of physical, intellectual and moral culture, upon the will 
of their employers.” 

In both Europe and America the period was one of laissez 
faire in economics. The will of the business man, even in the 
America of to-day, is, by the necessity of the case, a will to 
make a profit. Only what he may choose to do with his 
profits beyond a certain point, in the way of business or social 
service, rests entirely with him, even when the competition 
of unsocially-minded competitors permits him to exercise that 
choice. In New England, the will of the employers, with very 
few notable exceptions, was directed to making every cent of 
profit possible without the slightest regard for the welfare of 
their employees or the larger social questions of Americanism 
in the section. The manager of the largest mill in Fall River 
announced that, so long as he could find hands to work at the 
lowest wages, he would get every particle of work possible out 


I82 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


of them, and, when worn out, would discard them as he would 
worn-out machines. The manager of a mill at Holyoke who 
found his hands “languorous” in the morning conceived the 
idea of working them on empty stomachs, and succeeded for 
a while in getting three thousand yards more of cloth a week for 
the same wages. Had the manufacturers been scraping along 
on little or no profit, some excuse might have been offered for 
their cutting costs in order to keep going at all, but dividends 
were high, and watered stocks were spouting fortunes. The 
attitude toward labor was thus dictated by pure greed and not 
by the necessity of the case. By 1850 the good type of native 
New England men and women who had originally flocked to 
the mills to work had been driven out. 

The highly respected and prosperous merchants and ship- 
owners of Boston and other leading New England ports had 
proved equally incapable of any vision other than that of lin- 
ing their own pockets. After the “War for Sailors’ Rights” 
fought against England in 1812, the shipowners reduced 
wages until in a few decades they had brought them far below 
those possible for an American workman. The captains and 
officers were often brutal, and sailors could get no redress when 
conditions were brought to the attention of owners. Within 
a comparatively few years the fine Yankee sailor had almost 
disappeared, and his place had been taken by the lowest and 
most abandoned of the foreign groups. In 1817 the govern- 
ment had passed a law that at least two thirds of the crews 
must be Americans, but, as usual when a law conflicted with 
their supposed interests, the business men completely dis- 
regarded this one. On the other hand, after flogging had been 
made illegal, the Boston Marine Society, composed of the most 
respected shipping merchants in Boston, at a time when the 
North was being inflamed over the cruelties to the negro in the 
South, petitioned the government to restore the right to flog 
sailors to their work. The great shipowners were making 
fortunes and laying the foundations for future social snobbery, 
but in the process they were breaking Federal laws and, by 
forcing down wages to starvation levels and by wielding the 



'I 

THE NORTH BEGINS TO HUSTLE 183 

lash, they were driving self-respecting American sailors out of 
our merchant marine. To a considerable extent the same 
story could be told of the rest of the industrial North. “The 
rich, the wise, and the good” of the old Federalist formula 
had broken down in their leadership, and a class of wage 
earners new to American society was beginning to look for 
leadership in its own ranks. Labor began to organize, but for 
the most part it was merely on the defensive during ; 

period. ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ i 

Between 1830 and 1850, about two and a half million foreign- ; 

ers had been added to the population, chiefly in the Middle and | 

New England States, giving an entirely different complexion 
to the problems of self-government and manhood suffrage. 

Hordes of underpaid ignorant immigrants, with little training 
in government of any sort, replaced the old American stock 
with its long experience of town meetings and politics. The 
new citizens could be led to the polls by “bosses,” and the de- 
moralization of the larger municipalities quickly ensued, the 
rich caring no more for the quality of the electorate than for the 
welfare of their “hands,” provided that the legislatures, like 
the factories, gave them the desired results. People were no 
longer thinking in terms of statesmanship and the future, but 
of private business and the present. Constitutional questions 
which had perforce been the chief study of the earlier genera- 
tions for so many decades were considered settled, except 
perhaps slavery, which everyone thought of as little as possible 
when allowed to forget it. 

The conditions of the period were developing several of those 
traits which we consider rather distinctively “American,” 
but which really date from this time. The nation was growing 
at a staggering rate. Whether we pore over the tables showing 
population growth, manufacturing, commerce, the increase of 
wealth, or what not, we are struck even to-day by the mar- 
velous changes wrought every year. There seemed no limit 
whatever to the possibilities. The Federal Census of 1850 
estimated that, if the ratio of increase for the preceding decade 
were maintained, the United States would have a population 




THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


I 

r 

l 


I,! 

I 

i: 


184 

of 269,000,000 in the year 1930. In a table showing the com- 
parative progress of our population with that of foreign 
countries it demonstrated that, whereas between 1790 and 
1850 the average growth of Prussia, Great Britain, Russia, 
and France had been only 1.7 per cent annually each, ours had 
been 8.17 per cent. 

We no longer feared nation on the earth. The West 
was ours unhampered. The future seemed clear and glorious. 
A great wave of optimism swept over the country, and re- 
enforced by the material development of the next three quarters 
of a century, was to become a lasting trait in the American 
character. America had always been a hopeful country, but, 
until the middle of the eighteenth century, life had been a fairly 
serious business. Nothing but parts of the seaboard had been 
won from the wilderness, and everywhere in the background 
were French and Indian enemies. The colonies were weak, 
dependent parts of an empire. By 1750, as we have seen, 
a very substantial civilization had arisen along the coast, but 
then came the anxious years of controversy, war, and the weak- 
ness of the new independent government for an entire generation. 
The attitude hitherto had thus been hopeful but serious. From 
the 1830’s on, this changed to a rampant optimism. 

If, in view of the somewhat dark picture painted in the 
beginning of this chapter, it h€ asked how optimism became so 
general throughout all classes, the answer is not far to seek. 
It must be noted, for one thing, that however badly off a large 
multitude of the new immigrants might be at the lowest rung 
of the American economic ladder, they were used to a low 
standard of living, and in almost every respect, not least in the 
independent political atmosphere, they found themselves far 
better off than they had been in the countries from which they 
came. The Germans, of whom we shall speak in the next 
chapter, mostly went West and prospered. The Irish, poor as 
they were on first arrival, took to American life like ducks to 
water and soon rose in the scale of living, becoming foremen, 
policemen, politicians; and in a few years many of each 
succeeding crop of immigrants climbed to a level of influence 


THE NORTH BEGINS TO HUSTLE 


185 


and economic standards undreamed of in the old country. 
For the native-born who were being worsted in the struggle in 
the East, there was the West, with its rainbows. 

But, most important perhaps of aU, there was the complete 
absence of any legal class distinction. The fact that oppor- 
tunity appeared at least to be open to everyone kept alive 
belief in the American dream. After Andrew Jackson every 
boy was being told he might be President of the United States. 
In the Old World, luck or genius might raise a man from 
nothing to eminence, but for the general mass of men there was 
little hope there of rising above the station in life into which 
they had been born. In the America of the earlier days, 
character and hard work might bring a competency, but in an 
agricultural economy the accumulation of property was for 
most a slow process, and wealth was attained by very few. On 
the con trary, in the seething America of the 1830’s and 1840’s, 
both immigrant and old American felt that, with just a little 
luck, fortune might be waiting for him around the corner. 
Had n’t Astor made |ao,ooo,ooo, Girard left $6,000,000, while 
men in every community were evidently getting rich on a large 
if less spectacular scale ? Astor had been a foreign immigrant, 
scarcely able to read and write, yet there he was, rich as 
Croesus, and dictating to the government. Native or for- 
eigner, rich or poor, learned or unlearned, the race was free for 
all, and the prizes were beyond the imaginations of the preced- 
ing generation or of European magnates. Thete was nothing 
but the mysterious texture of the brain cells that need keep one 
man below another. But if one were to get akead of his 
fellows, if one were to grow rich in a few years, he must hurry. 
City lots were rising in price with every year of added popu- 
lation, corporations weye growing greater all the time, the 
tap-tap-tap of opportunity at the door seemed to grow louder 
and more insistent as a man listened, and life was short. For 
one’s self, for one’s family, one must hurry. 

The older American civilization had been leisurely. Many 
travelers found Americans rather slow and all too often lazy. 
Work had been necessary and had been enthroned as a virtue. 


i86 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


but when the possibilities of altering one’s position were small, 
and the farmer or storekeeper expected to be farmer or store- 
keeper all his life, there had been time, and stability. Now 
there was neither. 

Better roads, railways, and steamboats had all speeded up 
the actual tempo of life a bit, but not sufficiently to account for 
that nervous haste that from now on was to be another dis- 
tinctive American trait. New York, wrote one traveler about 
1840, “is the busiest community that any man could desire to 
live in. In the streets all is hurry and bustle; the very carts, 
instead of being drawn by horses at a walking pace, are often 
met at a gallop, and always in a brisk trot.” “The whole of 
the population,” he adds, “seen in the streets seem to enjoy 
this bustle, and add to it by their own rapid pace, as if . . . 
under the apprehension of being too late.” Nervousness 
became a common physical trait. All observers of the period 
note the new haste with which the Americans gulped down 
their meals, and hurried from the table. The American jaws 
began their ceaseless motion, and the chewing of tobacco, 
precursor of gum, became almost universal. Describing the 
New Englander, another observer wrote that “when his feet 
are not in motion, his fingers must be in action, he must be 
whittling a piece of wood, cutting the back of his chair, or 
notching the edge of the tabfe, or his jaws must be at work 
grinding tobacco. . . . He always has something to be done, 
he is always in a terrible hurry. He is fit for all sorts of work, 
except that which requires slow and minute processes. The 
idea of these fills him with horror; it is his hell.” “We are 
born in haste,” commented an American of the day; “we 
finish our education on the run; we marry on the wing; we 
make a fortune at a stroke, and lose itin the same manner.” 

The New York Sun, in a long article in 1838, noted that the 
universal mania had spread to the children. “‘Try,’ is the 
first word, the meaning of which is thoroughly mastered. 
Boys are men before they are loosed from their leading strings. 
They are educated in the belief that every man must be the 
architect of his own fortune. . . . Dreams of ambition or of 



THE NORTH BEGINS TO HUSTLE 


187 


wealth, never the arm which drives the hoop — the foot which 
gives the ball its impetus. Toys are stock in trade. Barter 
is fallen into by instinct, as a young duck takes to water. 
There is scarcely a lad of any spirit who does not, from the 
time that he can connect the most simple ideas, picture to him- 
self some rapid road to wealth — indefinite and obscure, it is 
true. But he reads the history of Girard, and of others who 
have amassed wealth. He sees the termini of the race — 
poverty at one end — affluence at the other, and jumps the 
intermediate years. He fancies that the course of amassing 
will be as easy as imagination. He dreams of dashing into a 
fortune by some lucky speculation. Contentment with com- 
petence he learns to regard as a slothful vice. To become rich, 
and, of course, respected, influential, great, powerful, is his 
darling object.” 

It was already noted by foreign travelers that the American 
did not love money for its own sake or hoard it as did the 
European, but was careless of it once gained, was lavish in both 
spending and giving, and seemed to enjoy money-making 
chiefly as an activity. The American had always been “ taking 
a chance.” The most serious of the religious leaders of the 
Pilgrims and Puritans had taken a great chance when they left 
comfortable Holland and England for the bleak wilderness. 
Every trial of new sites for settleiTient had always been a chance. 
Every one of the many million immigrants — German, Swiss, 
Scotch, Irish, English, French, and what not — who had 
staked their last bit of money in the world to reach the Land 
of Promise had taken a tremendous chance, for himself and his 
family. The colonists had taken a chance when they defied 
the might of the British Empire. Yet, somehow, it seemed that 
ninety-nine times out o^ a hundred the dice had fallen right. 
Taking a chance had got into the blood of the American until 
by the mid-century we find, as Kipling wrote of him nearly 
a century later. 

He greets th’ embarrassed Gods, nor fears 

To shake the iron hand of Fate 

Or match with Destiny for beers. 


i88 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


The influence of this taking a chance, of matching with 
Destiny for beers, had been cumulative, generation after 
generation, but it was the West that had made the winning 
chances so dazzling even for the Easterner. As we have pointed 
out, had the continent stopped short at the Appalachian 
Mountains, the civilization of the seaboard would probably 
have developed along the lines already so clearly marked out 
by the middle of the eighteentli century. As it was, that older 
civilization was almost completely wiped out. American 
culture and character, moulded by new influences, were to be 
wholly different. The planter, the statesman, the churchman, 
the “gentleman” as then understood, the budding poet or 
artist, were all to be conquered for many generations by the 
rising man of affairs. 

There were two factors which chiefly influenced the new type 
of civilization. One was the colossal size and richness of the 
new American empire, which made the prizes to be won so 
great as to turn the heads of even the most conservative of 
old Eastern families ; and the other was the absence of any 
impassable social barriers, which made success a free-for-all 
race, and so intensified the fierceness of competition to the 
nth. degree. Man’s love of being distinguished among his 
fellows has been one of the leading factors in raising the level 
of the whole race. In Americfa, as contrasted with Europe, it 
was open to every man, theoretically at least, to rise from the 
very bottom to the top. Wealth in every society has spelled, 
to a considerable extent, power and opportunity. It was not 
strange that it should do so in America, after the pioneering 
stage was over. The difference between Europe and America 
was that in the latter the prizes of wealth were far larger, they 
were to be won more quickly and easily, and they were open to 
all. This naturally meant that the possibility of winning them 
was in everybody’s mind, just as in England to-day, where high 
and low bet on horses, everyone talks races, or as in a Latin 
country they talk lotteries. In America, the place of horses 
and lottery tickets was taken by vast enterprises, the prizes 
were millions, and the people talked about them. Making 


THE NORTH BEGINS TO HUSTLE 


189 


money became a great and exciting game in which everyone 
participated. Of course the element of luck was great, but 
those of skill and ability were also present; and thus, apart 
from the excitement of the game, and the power and pleasures 
to be derived from wealth, a fortune, if made by one’s self, 
became also a badge of personal merit in the eyes of the public, 
our only substitute for a peerage to mark the man of outstand- 
ing ability. 

If the size of the prizes, and the opening of the race to all, 
made for much aimless “hustle” and sheer bodily nervousness, 
they also released an enormous amount of energy in the people 
at large and directed it into the channels of personal ambition. 
It was a fact of vast significance that not only, as the Sun said, 
was the word “try” the first of which the child mastered the 
meaning, but everyone, educated and uneducated, old American 
or newly landed immigrant, was also expected to “ try.” For 
the several million foreigners in particular, to be expected to try, 
and to have something to try for, was a challenge releasing 
unsuspected reservoirs of energy and resource. 

Some of the effects, however, were not so good. The winning 
of a fortune in haste required intense concentration. We have 
already seen how, in spite of the idealism also present, the life 
of the lower classes in America and particularly on the frontier 
tended to become absorbed in the pursuit of the material basis 
of life. In the older sections the pursuit of wealth, although it 
had its idealistic side, tended likewise toward materialism. 
In 1834, a by no means unsympathetic traveler noted that 
scenery meant nothing, that to the American a waterfall “is 
a motive power for his machinery, a mill privilege; an old 
building is a quarry of bricks and stones, which he works with- 
out the least remorse. . . . At the bottom of all that an 
American does, is money; beneath every word, money.” 
Although he gave much more liberally than the European to 
useful and public objects, “it is neither enthusiasm nor passion 
that unties his purse strings, but motives of policy or considera- 
tions of propriety, views of utility and regard for the public good, 
in which he feels his own private interests to be involved.” 


190 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


The American standard of living, except in the notable 
extravagance in dress, was in some respects as y6t below 
Europe. The cult of plumbing had not come, and an English 
traveler in 1840 could complain bitterly that even in most 
first-class hotels, like the Tontine House in New Haven, there 
was no such thing as a water-closet, guests having to go out of 
doors to an ill-smelling place at the end of the back yard. 
With the rapid increase of wealth, however, the standard was 
rapidly rising, and the American man began to be caught in 
the endless treadmill of rising family costs. With the great 
readjustment going on, the limitless possibilities, and the 
establishing of a new scale of incomes, he must needs indeed 
have been a brave or quixotic man who deliberately declined 
to try to make money and who interested himself in other 
things. 

Moreover, there has been one factor in American money- 
making of deep and lasting importance to American sociaMife 
and character, present from the start, but becoming more 
marked in this period. In communities of more or less stable 
population and resources, a competence is accumulated slowly. 
The speed with which one could get rich in America was due to 
the immense increase in population growth, and the exploi- 
tation of the continent’s unequaled resources. In old countries 
there would have been a distinct limit to the expansion of a 
business or the building of cities. In the Land of Promise there 
seemed to be none- The more men who devoted themselves to 
the material development of the country, the more quickly it 
developed, and the greater the chance of everyone to get some- 
thing out of it for himself. Thus, superimposed on the old 
Puritan and pioneer raising of work to the rank of a virtue, was 
the new conception of business as ^somehow a social and 
patriotic duty. Accumulated competencies or fortunes were 
rare. The overwhelming mass of the people, with boundless 
energies let loose, were anxious to improve their position. The 
combined mass of their desires, united with the realization that 
the more rapid the development of the country, the more 
chance they had individually to realize their hopes, created 


THE NORTH BEGINS TO HUSTLE 


191 

a public opinion that it was the duty of every man to assist in 
the development of the nation ~ that is, to go into business of 
some sort and to “make business.” This, combined with the 
ordinary" temptation to make money and the lack of social 
pleasures and the resource^ of cultivated society, made the 
pressure to think in terms of business almost irresistible. 

Even the young heir to a fortune, an observer of the 1830’s 
tells us, “has no conception of living without a profession, even 
when his family is rich, for he sees nobody about him not 
engaged in business.” The man without a business gradually 
ceased to have public respect or social standing. One rich 
young man, “wearied out with his solitary leisure ... could 
find no other relief than to open a fancy-goods shop.” Even 
the pulpit, always sensitive to public sentiment, hurled anath- 
emas at the man of leisure, devoting himself to the cultivation 
of the arts, as a political eneriiy to his country, and the intro- 
ducer of aristocracy and of idle and pernicious habits. Here 
and there the exodus to Europe started, and occasional Ameri- 
cans who could afford to do so, and whose tastes and tempera- 
ments could not be satisfied with the new conformity to busi- 
ness, began to appear in Paris, London, or Rome as exiles. 

These, however, were rare and unimportant exceptions. 
For the rest, every possible motive of private desire and public 
opinion tended to make them saving into line. The fact that 
the race was free for all, with its resulting fierceness of com- 
petition, and the fact that going into business and making 
money had for the reasons just given been exalted into a sort 
of religious duty and patriotic virtue, introduced yet another 
element into the moral condition of the nation. Business 
ceased to be a mere occupation which must be carried on in 
accordance with the moj-al code. It had itself become part of 
that code. Money-making having become a virtue, it was no 
longer controlled by the virtues, but ranked with them, and 
could be weighed against them when any conflict occurred. 
The quick development of an industry or a tract of land, the 
making of a million dollars to be added to the capital resources 
of the nation, could be weighed as exhibitions of moral and 


192 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


patriotic virtue against breaches of other exhibitions of virtue, 
such as justice or honesty. It was the tremendous develop- 
ment of the country, and the opening of the gates of opportu- 
nity to all, that had brought this about. Had it not been for 
this raising of money-making to the moral plane as a virtue 
in itself, its delinquencies could never have been measured 
with crimes against other parts of the moral code. As it was, 
unhappily, they could be, and were. 

As we have seen, in the colonial period the American had 
been tempted into an attitude of lawlessness by the passage of 
impossible, unwise, or inconvenient laws by the British Parlia- 
ment three thousand miles away. The colonist had got into 
the habit of deciding for himself what laws he would or would 
not obey. As the country had expanded westward, frontier 
conditions had reenforced this attitude toward law. Of the 
widespread lawbreaking in the period from 1830 to 1850 we 
shall speak more at length in the next chapter, but we may here 
note that another factor, very subtle but very deep-reaching, 
in the attitude of the American toward law was introduced by 
the raising of money-making to the rank of a virtue. This, 
and the fast tempo of the new American life, made it all too easy 
for the individual to get himself involved in ail sorts of moral 
casuistries. It might, of course, be wrong, so he could argue 
to himself, to make false statet?ients, even to perjure himself in 
a report or application to the government, to bribe a legislature, 
to hoodwink a competitor, to take an unfair advantage; but 
on the other hand, if by doing so he could put through his deal, 
if he could make a million in a year instead of in ten, was not 
that a patriotic service that might well outweigh the personal 
peccadillo involved in the means of its attainment ? Were not 
the voices of the Church and public praise united in assuring 
him that by making money fast and “developing” the country 
he was rendering a patriotic service and performing a moral 
duty ? If the making of a hundred thousand was a moral act, 
the making of a million must be one of exalted virtue and 
patriotism. If, in the course of doing so, a policeman or a land- 
office official in Washington or a few legislators in the State 


THE NORTH BEGINS TO HUSTLE 


193 


Capitol seemed to be in the way, it could hardly be immoral to 
get rid of their obstruction by the simplest and quickest method 
possible. It might be, as old Ben Franklin had said, that 
honesty was the best policy, but that meant it was only a 
policy, and if another policy worked better, why not employ 
it? If honesty was a virtue, so also was “developing the 
country,” They could be weighed quantitatively against 
each other, and if the reasoner happened to profit to the tune 
of a million, that was his luck or God’s providence. 

As for honest government, municipal or State, “the Fathers” 
had fortunately set up all the machinery for us. It had, of 
course, to be kept going just as the machinery in the factories 
had to, but it was ill-paid work which could be left to a low 
class of labor just as foreigners were being put to run the 
machinery in the mills. So long as the government ran fairly 
well and the cost was not too high, a patriot could be better 
employed in making a million in his office than in working for 
$500 a year as a State Senator. If the machinery did not run 
smoothly, if the cost got too high or the legislative product were 
not satisfactory, it might be necessary to bother about it ; but 
meanwhile the country had to be “developed,” and a practical 
patriot was busy about more important things than legislating. 
As to the crime that was becoming rampant throughout the 
country, there was no use in gfetting excited about that, and 
the business man had his affairs to attend to. So ran the 
ordinary business man’s mind. 

Indeed, what with the hurry, the illimitable opportunities, 
and the fierce competition, this new sort of get-rich-quick 
patriotism was putting a heavy strain on men. Just as in the 
early colonial days, or out on the advancing frontiers, a good 
bit of man’s culture ha^ to be dropped overboard, so now, in 
this new sort of struggle in the developed East, it had to be. 
Each stripped for the race to meet competition. Time was 
money and could not be wasted on what did not produce 
money. In the West, culture had come to be looked down upon 
by the pioneers as effeminate and useless because it did not help 
to fell trees and make a clearing. So in the East, among a very 



194 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


different class, it began to be disparaged because it lessened the 
speed in making money. Reading and music began to be left 
to the women. Men dropped out of society, or if they attended 
some function would be likely to be found segregated on one 
side of the room, uninterested in the conversation of the women 
and in turn incapable of interesting them. Just as money- 
making had become a manly and patriotic virtue, so an interest 
in art and letters tended to become a feminine minor vice. It 
was the frontier over again in fundamental influences, though 
in a gilded, rococo setting. 

As we compare the East of 1850 with that of 1750, I think 
we find the most essential contrast to be in the field of morals 
and the scale of values. There is no use in throwing stones at 
the men of the later period; they were caught in the con- 
ditions which surrounded them. We cannot find fault with 
the pioneer for losing some of the standards of civilized life and 
developing others under the strain of the type of life he led. 
In similar fashion these men of the East of 1830 to 1850 were 
subjected to new and colossal strains. Unfortunately, how- 
ever, just as the pioneer period on the frontiers left scars on the 
American mind, along with some excellent legacies, so did the 
Eastern period. Chief among these was the moral confusion 
caused by the expansion of the old conception of work as a 
moral virtue into the further ^conception of money-making as 
both a personal virtue and a patriotic duty, with the resultant 
confusion as to its relation to the rest of the virtues and the 
whole scale of social and moral values. Emanating directly 
from the too rapid expansion of the country, I think we must 
consider it one of the most potent influences for evil in American 
life. Yet the more one studies it sympathetically with a wish 
to understand, the less does one see^how it could have been 
avoided. There was assuredly no innate weakness or sinful- 
ness in the American people. We did not love money for its 
own sake as much as did the Europeans. In accepting the 
Industrial Revolution, we never brought into being such 
frightful conditions as ensued in the English manufacturing 
areas, bad as were our own. Both Jefferson and John Quincy 



THE NORTH BEGINS TO HUSTLE 


195 


Adams, foreseeing the evils of too rapid growth, had wished so 
to conserve the land in the West as to spread the process of 
development over centuries. Only a despotic government 
could have forced that policy on a people multiplying with 
incredible rapidity and bursting with energy. Given the intro- 
duction of machinery, the rapid expansion westward, our 
limitless resources, and our multiplying population, the swift 
accumulation of wealth was inevitable. In a society without 
barriers, where there were no established social distinctions, 
competition would be of unheard-of fierceness, but that was 
part of the American dream. It was an inevitable corollary of 
equality of opportunity. That was a legacy of incalculable 
value, though it has come down to us encumbered by the con- 
fusion of moral values which may, happily, not prove per- 
manent. Possibly, neither legacy may prove so. 

In stressing the above topic because of its importance, I have 
thus far given an impression of cultural simplicity to the period 
in the North which it was far from possessing in reality. 
The time was one not only of abounding vitality but of 
vast confusion. In Europe, as well as here, it threw to the 
surface all sorts of new “movements” and “isms,” wise and 
foolish; but, besides receiving innumerable cranks from the 
other side of the ocean, we raised a large crop of our own, 
idiocy, unfortunately, never needing a protective tariff. 
Mingled, however, with all kinds of absurd experiments to 
make the world over socially and economically, discussed in 
books and lectures or put into practice in short-lived “com- 
munities,” there was much of lasting worth. Imprisonment 
for debt was abolished, prisons were reformed, the care of the 
insane was improved, flogging abolished, education provided 
for the blind, movements started for temperance, world peace, 
women’s rights, abolition of slavery. 

One of the most broadly important of the movements was 
that in education. Even in New England, where opportunities 
for free education of the very young had been greater than else- 
where, the laws were much better and more liberal than was the 
actual practice. Chiefly on account of taxation, the rich 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


196 

almost everywhere opposed free education, and the move- 
ment developed from the working class. The American 
system of education is one of the fruits of the practical working 
of the American dream. In 1830 a workingmen’s meeting in 
Philadelphia unanimously resolved that “ there can be no real 
liberty without a wide diffusion of real intelligence . . . that 
until means of equal instruction shall be equally secured to all, 
liberty is but an unmeaning word, and equality an empty 
shadow.” Within the next two decades the present system 
of free education in the lower grades was established, and 
colleges likewise multiplied, there having come into being a 
hundred and fifty small denominational ones alone by the mid- 
century. Unfortunately, just as our modern system originated 
among the people and continued to be largely controlled by 
them, so it bore some of the marks of its sponsors. Not only 
were instruction and intelligence considered more or less 
synonymous, as in the above quotation, but the aim and con- 
tent of education tended to be limited by the cultural standards 
and outlook of the class which had brought it into being. It 
was aimed at safeguarding economic and political democracy 
rather than at the development of the individual, and its content 
was selected accordingly. To a great extent, largely because 
our national aims are even yet obscure to ourselves, this original 
confusion in our educational System has never been resolved. 

Innumerable voices seem to come to us from the North in 
these decades, advancing every sort of business scheme, urging 
all kinds of social reforms, offering to cure every ill — indi- 
vidualism run mad in an effort to build a society and a nation. 
They come to us blended in a confused roar like that of a stage 
mob in the wings of a theatre. In a rapidly running com- 
mentary such as this, it would be impossible to distinguish 
between them by detailed analysis of ail the isms and move- 
ments, but three voices, all from Massachusetts, sound clearly 
above the clamor and give expression to three distinct traits 
of the period — Emerson with his optimism and self-reliance, 
Garrison declaiming against slavery, Webster pleading for 
nationalism. 



THE NORTH BEGINS TO HUSTLE 


197 


It is useless, with our present small knowledge, to attempt to 
account elaborately for the appearance of the arts at any given 
time and place. We have seen that a group of intellectuals, 
headed by Irving and Cooper, had appeared in New York, and 
now a much more important one — including Emerson, 
Hawthorne, Whittier, Longfellow, Thoreau, and others — 
began to appear in the neighborhood of Boston. This has 
been called the flowering of the Puritan spirit, and various 
other things which equally mean nothing. It is easy to bemuse 
ourselves with words, but the plain fact is that we do not know 
why, out of the three centuries of Boston history, there should 
have been a few decades during which an unusual literary 
group appeared all at once, and never before or after. One or 
two things may be said. Whatever other by-products it may 
have had, the Calvinistic theology of Puritanism had trained 
the New England mind to think — no mean achievement any- 
where, Thought as thought, and mind as its instrument, had 
been held in higher respect in New England than in any other 
section. The decadence of the old theology had left the people 
at large indifferent to a great extent, but the release from the 
conceptions of Hell did not release the old inhibiting influences 
on thought and instinctive conduct. Among a small group in 
Boston, however, Unitarianism had served as a rationalizing 
bridge between the dread Jehovah and a somewhat vague 
Power for Good at the centre of things. This abstract Power 
for Good, reenforced by the concrete development of the 
resources of the West, began to make the world — that is, 
Boston and its neighborhood — a pleasanter place to live in. 
If God after all was good, and if the U.S.A. was definitely on 
the road to becoming the greatest nation on the earth, there 
was ample material for, the highly trained Boston intellect to 
work on. 

All this, and more, does not explain, nevertheless, why there 
should almost simultaneously have appeared such a group as 
did appear. Of them all, the most authentically American 
was Emerson, if we possibly except Thoreau, and there is no 
comparison between the men in the influence they have 


198 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 




exerted. Without any thought-through system, a fact which 
perhaps has endeared him all the more to Americans, Emerson 
was imbued completely with the new spirit of American 
optimism and with the religion of the infinite possibilities in 
the individual common man. Why all this deference to the 
great men of the past, he asks, when “as great a stake depends 
on your private act to-day as followed their public and re- 
nowned steps ?” “Hitch your wagon to a star,” he told his 
hearers in a thoroughly American metaphor which could thrill 
them. Probably his most popular essay has always been that 
on “Self-Reliance,” and he has indubitably stirred innumerable 
youth to high endeavor. In the history of American thought, 
the further west the Indian was driven, the more remote the 
Devil became. In Emerson, the Devil, or the problem of Evil, 
evaporated almost completely. Dr. Channing and the now 
distant pioneer had done a complete job. 

The American dream — the belief in the value of the com- 
mon man, and the hope of opening every avenue of oppor- 
tunity to him — was not a logical concept of thought. Like 
every great thought that has stirred and advanced humanity, 
it was a religious emotion, a great act of faith, a courageous 
leap into the dark unknown. As long as that dream persists to 
strengthen the heart of man, Emerson will remain one of its 
prophets. On the other hand,'riobie and simple as his life was, 
there was much in his doctrine that lent itself all too readily to 
the emphasizing of American traits already produced on 
frontier after frontier. Such a quotation as “Do not craze 
yourself with thinking, but go about your business anywhere. 
Life is not intellectual or critical, but sturdy,” illustrates what 
I have in mind. His belief in the value of spontaneity, of the 
intuition rather than the thought-through conclusion, was of 
the frontier, not of the Puritan. In no other author can we get 
so close to the whole of the American spirit as in Emerson. 
In him we sense the abounding vitality and goodness of life, the 
brushing aside of the possibilities of failure, evil, or sin, the high 
value placed on the individual, the importance ascribed to the 
every act of you and me, the aspiration toward the stars and 


THE NORTH BEGINS TO HUSTLE 


199 


the calm assurance that the solid earth is ours, the worship of 
culture combined with the comforting assurance that the 
spontaneous glance may be best, the insistence on a strenuous 
individuality, the trumpet blasts that call us to high endeavor 
in the lists of thought and character, combined, for our weaker 
moments, with the dicta that “we are all wise” and that 
“culture ends in headache.” His volumes are the mirror of 
the American soul. Every lineament is there reproduced. 
But American conditions have changed. Steeped as he was 
in Concord and Boston, Emerson was a product of the develop- 
ment of the West. He belonged to our century of optimism, 
an appendix to the Tables in the Census of 1850. For him all 
was good — -God, the possibilities of life, the heart of man. 
To-day we are not so sure, and boys and girls no longer read 
their Emerson as did those of my generation. 

In the vast optimism of the period, men kept their eyes 
averted as far as possible from the portentous cloud that they 
saw, and refused to see, slowly rising on the Southern sky — 
slavery. The South had changed and was buying Northern 
manufactures heavily now, because the North needed Southern 
cotton for its mills. Everything had been settled in the 
Missouri Compromise. The North had talked secession in 
the War of 1812; the South had talked it later, but we were 
getting bigger and richer every year. “ For Heaven’s sake be 
practical (so ran the popular mind) ; attend to your business 
and leave the Southerners alone. They have got to have 
niggers to raise cotton, and cotton is one of our biggest assets. 
It is a long time since we had slaves and we don’t want them 
again, but it is the South’s ajfFair and not ours ; if you make 
them mad down there, you will ruin business and perhaps 
smash the Union. Everything in America has worked out for 
the best in the past, and if only the confounded radicals would 
learn sense and keep their mouths shut, this slavery problem 
would work itself out somehow.” Thus felt 99 per cent of the 
Northern business men. 

But in Boston in 1831, “in the sight of Bunker Hill and in 
the birthplace of liberty,” as he dated it, William Lloyd 


200 


THE EPIC OF ^ ^ 

Garrison published the first number of his fanatical weekly 
paper, the Liberator. “I shall strenuously contend for the 
immediate enfranchisement of our slave population. Urge 
me not to moderation in a cause like the present. I am in 
earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will 
not retreat a single inch — and i will be heard.” And he 
was heard. The Abolitionists, as those of his party and way of 
thinking came to be called, stirred the country. North as well 
as South, to a pitch of passion such as has never been wit- 
nessed among us before or since. The destruction of printing 
plants, mobbings, even murders of Abolitionists, marked the 
next decade and more. Opinion will perhaps always remain 
divided as to whether in the long run the movement served the 
genuine good of the negro or not. There can be no doubt, 
however, that it kept the subject of slavery before the two 
publics, — Northern and Southern, — which would fain have 
let it rest undiscussed, and that it sowed the seeds of intense 
bitterness between the sections. 

In our own day we have experienced the strength of 
feeling aroused among our people by the passage of Pro- 
hibition legislation by the fanatical reforming elements. If 
we can imagine that, instead of having merely deprived a large 
part of our population — a part that considers itself quite as 
moral and high-minded as the feformers — of the enjoyment of 
a social habit, the reformers had threatened in addition on 
moral grounds to deprive them of so large a part of their 
property as to ruin them financially, we can get a better idea 
of the feeling stirred up by the Abolitionists. The general 
subject of slavery will be discussed later, but we may here note 
that the two sections were in any case drifting apart more 
widely and rapidly than was realized, The richer classes in 
both of them were exploiting labor, as every civilization has 
always done, as every civilization may, perhaps, have to do. 
That, in spite of the American dream, is an unsettled question 
as yet. The Southerner exploited labor in the shape of legal 
slavery, the Northerner in the shape of wage slavery. Neither 
was conscious of any moral guilt in adapting himself to the 


THE NORTH BEGINS TO HUSTLE 


201 


social structure that had been shaped by the economic situation 
of his own section. 

In both sectionsj the rapid increase of the new wealth had 
brought new men to the top. The men of the North, who had 
risen from nothing, without traditions, to wealth and promi- 
nence as bankers, merchants, manufacturers, or stockjobbers, 
could be duplicated in the Cotton Kingdom among owners of 
great plantations. Planters were far from being invariably 
of ancient lineage or fine old Southern stock. On the other 
hand, the social traditions of the South were quite diflferent 
from those of the North, and the Southern planter, sometimes 
rightly and sometimes not, looked down on the Northern busi- 
ness man as an uncouth upstart without the manners of a 
gentleman. There was also at work the dislike of the landed 
proprietor for the city trader, and of the man of easy-going 
ways for the business hustler. To have these Yankees, who 
drove their wage slaves twelve and fourteen hours a day in 
badly ventilated mills for a few cents’ pay, and who never 
assumed the slightest responsibility for them when sick, old, 
or out of work, tell the Southerner that his form of slavery only 
was immoral, and thus assume airs of superiority, was galling. 
The Southerner rightly said that he was not presuming to 
interfere between the Northern employer and AzV exploited 
labor, and so what right had the latter to make all these threat- 
ening speeches against a perfectly legal economic system 
which was guaranteed in the Constitution of the nation ? To 
him it was an outcropping again of the inevitable persecuting 
mania of the Puritan — a sequel to the Salem witches, the 
banishments and hangings of Massachusetts history. 

Every civilization which develops a homogeneous form comes 
to nourish and depend, upon a certain set of cultural values. 
The South had a distinct type of civilization, and its cultural 
values were dear to it. Those of a highly competitive, com- 
plex industrial civilization are bound to be very different, and 
as the North became definitely committed to such a civilization, 
the South began instinctively to feel its own threatened. In 
the same way, what many of the sanest critics of America 


202 , 


THE EPIC OF- AMERICA 


to-day object to is not its system of Viie per se, hnt the dis- 
torted and debased cultural values which have resulted. 

As the North grew in population and wealth, the South felt 
that it was trying more and more to exploit the rest of the 
nation for its own benefit and to extend its system. The 
tariff, to which the South had become bitterly opposed, was 
a case in point. When that of 1828 had been passed. South 
Carolina had threatened secession, asking whether it was worth 
while to remain in a Union “where the North demands to be 
our masters, and we are required to be their tributaries.” 
North and South as yet were fairly evenly balanced. Each, 
to get the better of the other, would have to enlist the West on 
its side. The balance of power had followed the Cumberland 
Road over the mountains. Baits were offered. There was 
much jockeying for position, and the endless speeches in the 
Senate went on. 

Finally the climax came when, on January 26, 1830, Webster 
made his great reply to Senator Hayne of South Carolina, 
giving voice to the new nationalism and attempting to sweep 
away the whole doctrine of the right of a State either to secede 
or to annul a Federal statute. Denying that the Federal 
government was a mere compact between sovereign States, 
he declared, in words which every schoolboy knows, that “it is 
the people’s constitution, the f>eople’s Government; made for 
the people ; made by the people ; and answerable to the people. 
The people of the United States have declared that this con- 
stitution shall be the supreme law.” Defying the right of 
a Southern State to nullify or secede, the great orator from a 
State which had itself threatened secession less than two 
decades before ended with an impassioned plea for unity in the 
florid oratorical style of the day. “When my eyes shall be 
turned to behold, for the last time, the sun in heaven, may I 
not see him shining on the broken and dishonored fragments 
of a once glorious Union ; on States dissevered, discordant, 
belligerent; on a land rent with civil feuds, or drenched, it 
may be, in fraternal blood ! Let their last feeble and lingering 
glance rather behold the gorgeous ensign of the republic, now 


THE NORTH BEGINS TO HUSTLE 


203 


known and honored throughout the earth, still full high ad- 
vanced, -its arms and trophies streaming in their original lustre, 
not a stripe erased or polluted, nor a single star obscured, bear- 
ing for its motto no such miserable interrogatory as ‘What is 
all this worth ?’ nor those other words of delusion and folly, 
‘Liberty first and Union afterwards’; but everywhere, spread 
all over in characters of living light, blazing on all its ample 
folds, as they float over the sea and over the land, and in every 
wind under the whole heavens, that other sentiment, dear to 
every American heart, — Liberty and Union, now and for 
ever, one and inseparable !” 

A few weeks later, at the Jeflerson birthday dinner, the issue 
was clearly joined. President Jackson electrifying the Nulli- 
ficationists by giving the toast of “Our Federal Union — it 
must be preserved,” to which Vice President Calhoun imme- 
diately added the challenging one of “The Union— next to our 
liberty, the most dear.” The issue balanced on a knife edge 
for two years, when the West, having been bought over by 
favors, gave its support to a new tariff bill, which at once set 
the State of South Carolina aflame. The Ordinance of Nul- 
lification was passed; armed resistance to the Federal govern- 
ment threatened. But the nation was not yet willing to drink 
the cup of blood. Compromise was effected, and the South 
was promised a steady diminution of the tariff duties during 
the next decade. Before that was quite passed, however, the 
Abolitionists, through the Massachusetts Antislavery Society, 
had declared that the Constitution, making a slavery compact 
between North and South, was “a covenant with death and an 
agreement with hell — involving both parties in atrocious 
criminality, and should be immediately annulled.” A few 
weeks later, the New England Antislavery Society went on 
record, passing a resolution by 250 to 24, that it was the duty 
of every Abolitionist to agitate for the immediate dissolution 
of the Union. 

The South was being more and more goaded. Wild words 
were spoken there, the mails rifled, lives threatened. It was 
not merely a question of slavery. It was a question of inter- 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


204 

pretation of the fundamental compact between the States— a 
question whether, as in the tariff controversies, one section of 
the country could be made tributary to another ; whether 
property guaranteed by the Constitution was safe or not if the 
North objected to an economic system which was different 
from its own ; whether the Southern planter should be forced 
to take his morality from the Northern business man ; whether 
an agrarian civilization could preserve its character or should 
be forced to conform to a disliked industrial one; whether 
a section of the country was to be allowed to maintain its own 
peculiar set of cultural values or be coerced to conform to those 
of an alien and disliked section by force of numbers ; a question 
of what would become of liberty if Union were to mean an 
enforced uniformity. As we look back to-day, — because, 
from a military necessity in the conflict which we shall have to 
chronicle in a later chapter, the slave became legally free, — 
the tendency is to think of the whole conflict of sections in the 
simple terms of slavery. To do so, however, is to mistake the 
forces at work. The questions at issue were far more numerous 
and far less simple. In the life of the nation to-day, over- 
whelmed by an industrialism and a uniformity that have be- 
come subversive of our American dream, those questions have 
not yet been answered. 

Meanwhile, observers refused to look at the black cloud 
which was coming up in a sky which otherwise seemed to be 
dazzling blue. If there were anxiety and resentment in the 
South, the North was humming with industry and its business 
men were doing their best to hush up the Abolitionists, even by 
threatening their lives. The West — to which, like the party 
managers of that day, we must now turn — was exulting in its 
youth and beginning to glimpse “Mp^nifest Destiny” in the 
sunset sky over the Western mountains. The plain citizens 
everywhere felt a thrilling sense of freedom and of power. To 
a crowd that pressed too closely on a political procession, a 
gentleman at the head had called out, “Make way for the 
representatives of the people!” “Make way yourself!” was 
thundered back. “We are the People themselves.” 



VIII 


MANIFEST DESTINY LAYS A GOLDEN EGG 

“ Make way ! We are the people ! ” In Spanish and in English, 
though not in French, that cry had now resounded on the 
continent for nearly three centuries. It was only in English, 
however, that the cry was hurled at any and all that hindered 
or helped the steady advance of the ordinary man. The fish 
in the sea, by millions annually, had succumbed to it. The 
fur-bearing animals in the woods had scurried before it across 
half a continent. The incredible flocks of wild pigeons in the 
air had melted before it. The trees of the forest had heard and 
crashed in helpless obeisance to it. The Indian, native owner 
of the soil, had heard it, and fought or sickened or fled. The 
rich had heard it and entrenched themselves more strongly 
behind political -privilege and a Federal Constitution steadily 
being modified by judicial decisions to bulwark the rights of 
property against the demands of man. 

The English, when America was first settled, had been a 
seafaring folk. It had been many centuries since the founders 
of the race had dwelt in the vast forests of Germany and 



2o6 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


Britain. When their descendants had crossed the sea, however, 
they had been confronted by the almost forgotten conditions 
of the forest. In the two hundred years since the first perma- 
nent settlement had succeeded in Virginia, they had learned 
the technique of forest living and clearing. The American 
frontiersman was as much at home in the silent forested 
wilderness as his ancestor had been on the tossing waves. 
That wilderness had extended from the Atlantic over the 
mountains, until, in the Mississippi Valley, it gave place to the 
open prairies and plains. Slowly the American civilization 
had cut its way through, but when it emerged into daylight 
again on the Western side, owing to its long forest training 
it was as uncertain of itself in the face of the great open spaces 
as a seaman on the land. Moreover, the wide expanse of the 
plains had been proclaimed by every explorer who had visited 
it as a waste desert utterly unfit for human habitation. Almost 
as inevitably as though it had been the sea itself, it seemed to 
set the bounds to the western advance of the white man. 

Throughout the whole history of that advance, the front 
line had been in constant contact with the retreating rear line 
of the savage. Occasionally, as in the cases of the Cherokees 
and the Seminoles in the South, large bodies of the red men had 
clung to their hunting grounds and been surrounded by the 
whites and a civilization to whkh they could not be assimilated. 
The racial pride of the English had prevented any amalgama- 
tion. The impact of one race on the other had not been amel- 
iorated by intimacy and human kindness. The black slave had 
become a domestic animal, occasionally ill-treated, but more 
often kindly and sometimes even affectionately used. The red 
man had remained, in the view of the white, a wild beast of 
the forest to be exploited or exterminated. In. the broad sweep 
taken through our history by this book,' we have been unable to 
chronicle the incessant local contacts and conflicts, but they 
had not been without their effect on the psychology of the 
whites in creating a certain race prejudice and insensibility to 
the rights of those who were considered inferior, emphasizing 
that trait of ruthlessness already in the blood. Treaty after 



MANIFEST. DESTINY LAYS A GOLDEN EGG 207 


treaty had been made with the natives, only to be broken 
without eompunction when the white man wanted more lands 
for his insatiable demand for expansion. Two centuries of 
almost yearly conquests over a weak foe had implanted in us a 
feeling that nothing could stand to block our way. Almost the 
only “foreigners” we had known, had been poverty-stricken 
Europeans and American savages. Both fed our sense of 
superiority. 

At last the “Great American Desert, ’V as it came to be 
named, seemed to call on us to halt, and a permanent Indian 
policy was evolved which contemplated forming the plains 
into a vast reserve for the red men, who, in spite of war, dis- 
ease, and stolen hunting grounds, yet numbered between three 
and four hundred thousand east of the Rockies. The Cherokees 
and the Seminoles were removed bodily from the South, and 
with the Plains Indians — the Sioux, Shawnees, Pawnees, 
Kansas, and others — were forced to sign treaties that they 
would remain behind the new line of demarcation between the 
two civilizations. President Jackson in his annual message of 
1835 declared that a barrier had at last been raised behind 
which the Indian would be protected, and that “the pledge of 
the United States has been given by Congress that the country 
destined for the residence of this people shall be forever ‘secured 
and guaranteed to them.’” Already, however, the inability 
to keep the white man from anything he wanted had become 
evident. The northeastern part of the boundary had been 
settled by solemn treaty in 1825, but the discovery of lead 
mines and the pressing in of new immigrants at once made 
trouble. Without a shadow of right, whites settled on Indian 
lands and preempted their cornfields. A rising under Black 
Hawk was suppressed by local militia and Federal troops under 
General Scott, and the fndians were pushed back regardless of 
treaties. If the great Desert should ever be found to have 
value, the doom of the natives would be sealed. Meanwhile, 
westward expansion was diverted from the Desert’s inhospital- 
ity and the wildness of its savage inhabitants, southward to 
Texas and northwestward to the Oregon country. 


208 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


West of the Sabine and south of the Red River lay the great 
Mexican province of Texas. Mexico had won her independence 
from Spain in 1821, but neither the vast body of the population, 
composed of civilized Indians, nor the small Spanish and 
Creole element at the top, had shown any capacity for self- 
government. Roads ran from Mexico City to Natchitoches 
in Louisiana, Santa Fe in New Mexico, and San Francisco in 
California, but these vast outlying provinces were too huge 
and distant to be well governed, even had the government 
been stronger, sounder, and more capable at the heart. Owing 
partly to national character, whatever that may mean, and 
partly to the character of the civilization which he had first 
encountered in the New World, the Spaniard had remained an 
explorer and exploiter and had never become a genuine pioneer. 

Texas was almost uninhabited, and at first the Mexican 
government welcomed colonization by the Americans. Land 
grants for that purpose had been made to a Connecticut 
Yankee, Moses Austin, who died just before independence was 
won from Spain. His son, Stephen, continued his father’s 
work, and in 1822 planted a colony on the shore of the Gulf. 
Under the new Mexican colonization laws each married settler 
could acquire 4428 acres for less than two hundred dollars, and 
the population rapidly increased, as we have noted previously, 
the immigration coming mostly from the American South. 
It was the intention of Mexico that these settlers should 
become Mexican, and Austin abided loyally by the under- 
standing. In 1831 he wrote confidentially to a friend, saying 
that he had bid an everlasting farewell to his native country 
and intended to “fulfill rigidly all the duties and obligations 
of a Mexican citizen.” 

Down to about 1834, Austin was able to abide by his pledges, 
and was the absolute leader of the twenty thousand or so 
inhabitants of the province, of whom about two thousand were 
slaves. Mexico had prohibited slavery within her borders, 
but, as on all frontiers, white labor was almost unobtainable 
and there were no docile Indians in Texas to be exploited as in 
Mexico itself. Unless the settlers were to remain peasant 



MANIFEST DESTINY LAYS A GOLDEN EGG 209 

farmers, the only recourse was to black slavery, and the Mexi- 
can government looked benevolently the other way. The 
instability of that government, however, the uncertainty as to 
the status of slave property, the prohibition against further 
American colonization, and the fact that recently the immigra- 
tion had embraced a large proportion of reckless and even 
criminal characters, made no longer tenable the continuance 
of Mexican loyalty on the part of a State whose population 
was almost wholly American in origin. Santa Anna exploded 
the situation when, in 1835, he proclaimed a new constitution 
for Mexico, abrogating certain States’ rights hitherto possessed 
by the Texans. The settlers in turn proclaimed a provisional 
government and expelled the Mexican garrison from San 
Antonio. The military plans were badly bungled, and when 
Santa Anna appeared in that little town with three thousand 
troops, the fortified mission house of the Alamo was found 
defended by less than two hundred Texans, with no rescuers 
on the way. On March 5, 1836, the building was carried by 
assault and every defender was massacred, almost every Texan 
within having been already killed or wounded before the Mexi- 
cans reached them. Among the slain were Davy Crockett and 
the notorious Bowie of hunting-knife fame. 

A Declaration of Independence had been drawn up, March 1 , 
by fifty-five Texans, whose average age was under thirty-eight. 
Sam Houston, who in the autumn was to become President of 
the new State, defeated the Mexicans in a battle in which the 
American war cry was, “Remember the Alamo !” A constitu- 
tion, legalizing slavery, was ratified, and the United States was 
asked either to acknowledge the independence of the new State 
or, better, to annex it to the Union. Recognition was granted 
within a year, but annexation meant war with Mexico and an 
addition of territory (large enough to carve into five States) 
to the slave portion of the Union. The revolt had come from 
natural and almost inevitable circumstances, but voices were 
at once raised in the North protesting that the whole affair 
was a plot by the South to extend its power, and in the tension 
which then existed annexation had to wait. 


210 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


Meanwhile, the Great American Desert had also been 
flanked on the north. Fur traders had long been carrying on 
their trade far up to the Oregon country, and by 1831 the 
American Fur Company had a steamer which had proceeded 
up the Missouri River as far as Council Bluffs, and annually 
the head of navigation was pushed farther. The traders went 
into the Montana valleys to get the results of the season’s 
hunts, and learned to know the whole terrain of the northern 
West east of the Rockies, which the first covered wagon had 
reached by 1830. Trappers, explorers, and missionaries 
pressed farther northwest to the Snake and Columbia Rivers. 
Oregon, the title to which was in dispute with England and 
which had hitherto been reached only by sea around Cape 
Horn, was now brought into touch with settled America 
overland. 

The “Oregon Trail,” across the plains, along the River 
Platte and through the mountain passes, started from Inde- 
pendence, Missouri, which was the farthest flung entr'epot of 
American business for a while on the Western frontier. From 
it also the Santa Fe Trail led across the plains southwestward 
to the settlement of that name in New Mexico. The Spaniards 
there had money, but the fifteen-hundred-mile haul from 
Vera Cruz made freight rates practically prohibitive, and the 
Americans who first drove thbir wagons over the plains found 
a market ready to their adventurous hands. The first got 
through in 1821, and after that the Santa Fe traders started 
across the plains each spring, traveling in caravans for protec- 
tion against the Indians until the border of the Santa Fe 
country was reached, when a mad scramble ensued to see 
which of the competitors could get there first. At night, the 
horses would be unharnessed and, with the rest of the live 
stock, placed in the centre of a corral made by the encircling 
wagons. The government, however, came to the aid of the 
traders. In 1827 Fort Leavenworth was established, and in 
1829 Major Riley, with a detachment of troops, marched in 
the spring with the caravan as far as the Mexican border on 
the Arkansas River, awaiting their return there in the autumn. 


MANIFEST DESTINY LAYS A GOLDEN EGG an 


In one or two subsequent years there were also armed escorts, 
but sufficient impression had been made on the Indians to 
render the route safe when the traders went in bodies. 

Measured by the statistics which the American was now 
coming to adore, all these activities — trapping, emigration to 
Oregon, trading with the Santa Fe country — were not very 
important. Their tremendous significance lay in the fact that 
as the Great American Desert came to be traversed in one direc- 
tion and another, the myth of its uselessness to the white man 
was gradually dissipated. Although government surveyors 
were in future to get a good deal of credit for mapping the 
region, the fur traders of the northern part came to know the 
whole territory well, and the trader with Santa F6 soon realized 
that for at least the first seven hundred miles the land was 
already susceptible of easy agricultural development. When 
the honor of the nation had been pledged to the Indian, the 
frontier had thought that Gatlin was right when he said that 
the whole strip reserved to the savage “is, and ever must be, 
useless to cultivating man.” Unhappily for the red man, the 
settlers were beginning to find out that Gatlin had been wrong. 
The whole theory of the Desert as a reserve for the natives 
quietly broke down and disappeared. Had the Far West kept 
merely to trapping and to passing once a year in a caravan to 
trade with the distant Spanish,^' the Indian might not have 
suffered, but things were happening farther back in the Middle 
West and the East which were soon to overwhelm the savage, 
though far beyond his ken or control. 

The tremendous growth in population in the United States, 
the expansion westward, the development of manufacturing 
and of machinery, had all resulted in wild hopes and created 
a hectic atmosphere of ‘‘.prosperity.” Although the real rail- 
road age did not begin until about 1848, lines were begun and 
planned in the early thirties. Everywhere the demand for 
interchange of goods led to the demand for transportation, and 
as constitutional scruples had become sufficiently strong to 
preclude the national government from undertaking to provide 
transportation facilities, and private corporations were not yet 


212 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


sufficiently developed to do so, an era began in which the indi- 
vidual States, more amenable to the whim of the voter, plunged 
into the most fantastic extravagances to build roads, canals, 
and railways. With all this came the demand for currency 
and credit, and newly chartered banks were scattered over the 
country like confetti. The more feverish “prosperity " became, 
the madder the uprush of prices and demand for credit. In 1830 
the per capita issues of paper money were only $6.69. By 1 837 
they had risen to ?I3.87. The price of land, as well as of other 
commodities, shot up as a whale spouts. Western lands on 
which in 1830 a lender might have hesitated to lend a thousand 
dollars seemed, by their prices, to warrant double that by 
1837. But it was not only the West that lost its head. Just as, 
in 1928, financial advisers were cautioning the gullible public 
that if it did not buy stocks immediately at any price, it might 
never have a chance to buy American “equities” again, so all 
sorts of rumors were put about in 1834 and 1835. It was said, 
for example, that the timber of Maine was nearing exhaustion, 
and timber lands jumped in some cases from five dollars up to 
fifty an acre. Building lots at Bangor soared from three hun- 
dred dollars to a thousand. In the South, prices doubled and 
trebled. Between 1830 and 1835, the assessed value of real 
estate in New York City jumped from $250,000, 000 to $403,- 
000,000. The sales of goverribient land to settlers and specula- 
tors rose from less than $5,000,000 in 1834 to over $25,000,000 
in 1836, most of the huge sum being borrowed from banks on 
absurd valuations and hopes. 

Quite apart from President Jackson’s war on the Bank of the 
United States and the unfortunate aspects of national finance, 
the bubble had swollen to such dimensions that the smallest pin 
could prick it. In May 1837, the banks suspended specie pay- 
ment by general consent, and the panic was on. All the 
Western and Southern and some of the Northeastern States 
had involved themselves in huge bond issues for improvements 
with no regard to their economic value, and the crash included 
public as well as private credit. Values melted. In North 
Carolina, farms could be sold for only 2 per cent of their sup- 


MANIFEST DESTINY LAYS A GOLDEN EGG 213 


posed worth. In Mississippi, slaves who had recently been 
purchased for twelve to fifteen hundred dollars each were offered 
for two hundred dollars cash. It was said that in Alabama 
practically, the entire property in the State changed hands, and 
that 50 per cent of all in the United States did so. Feeling 
against the banks, which would have been extremely virulent 
in any case, was rendered more so by a staggering list of defal- 
cations by officers, which grew day by day. New York was 
like a dead city. Boats lay idle at the docks and all building 
operations ceased. It took two years for the full effects to be 
felt in the West, and five before the nation began to recover. 
The rich saw fortunes swept away and the poor faced abso- 
lute destitution. In New York, six thousand men working on 
buildings were discharged. Within five months from the sus- 
pension of payments, nine tenths of all the factories in the 
Eastern States had closed, and fifty thousand employees in the 
shoe trade in Massachusetts were idle. From a half to two 
thirds of the clerks and salesmen in Philadelphia were without 
work. At New Bedford forty whale ships were laid up. 
Throughout the entire industrial sections of the country, the 
suffering of the working class was intense. In the South, 
plantation owners had to sell slaves for whatever they would 
bring to buy food to feed the rest. Owners of land, whether 
speculators or bona-fide farmers, “were overwhelmed with debt 
which it was impossible to pay, and were lucky to keep a 
roof over them. The debauch was over and the nation lay 
prone. 

Just as earthquakes under the sea cause tidal waves, so the 
panic of 1837, like that of 1 8 1 9, caused a great wave of westward 
migration in the population. It rushed out from the Atlantic 
seaboard, dropping the uprooted human beings in its course as 
flowing water lets the heavy particles in it sift downward to 
rest. For the most part, with each successive hundred miles 
west, the population became sparser. People would move 
from one line to the next, which seemed to them to offer more 
opportunity; settlers on that line, in turn, would move on 
to the next one. 


2,14 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 

But far out in the West, on the real frontier line, the wave 
beat against the already doomed domain of the Indian, and 
washed up into it settlers and houses and farms, and the Fate 
that was to overtake the savage. Fort Winnebago, for example, 
which had been established to protect the Indian in his rights, 
became the starting point for white invaders to sweep up to the 
lead district, flood the prairies, or enter the hardwood forests of 
Wisconsin. No one can even estimate the vast numbers of 
Americans from the innumerable countrysides, villages, towns, 
and cities who in these years shifted westward from wherever 
they started. Michigan, which had a population of 31,000 in 
1830, held 212,000 ten years later. Two by two, slave and free, 
new States came into the Union in a decade or so : Michigan- 
Arkansas, lowa-Florida, Texas-Wisconsin. Constitutions of 
the new members to a great extent showed the hatred of banks, 
and the steady demand for more democracy. 

Towns started before or after the panic were rapidly rising 
into cities — Keokuk, Burlington, Davenport, Chicago, Mil- 
waukee, Dubuque. The West was in ferment all along the line. 
Each new community thought it would surely be the centre of 
its territory, but who could say? About 1840 a man who 
had bought land on the outskirts of Chicago, as then mapped, 
for a thousand dollars an acre complained that he could not 
get a hundred dollars for it and perhaps would never be able 
to get fifty. 

America has always been a land of dreams, the “land of 
promise.” The Atlantic has ever been a vast sundering Lethe 
which has shut out the influence of the past. The only finger 
which has beckoned has been that of a hope-filled future. 
Panic after panic — 1791, 1819, 1837, 1857, and so on down — 
has wrought havoc and destruction, like our Western tornadoes, 
but the finger has never ceased to beckon with compulsion. 
For a short space once, in the mid-eighteenth century, we had 
a summer’s day of pause and fulfillment, when we thought our 
America was bounded by the nearest mountains, and began to 
take our ease in Zion. But, the mountains overleaped, wider 
and wider Americas opened before us, and there were never 



MANIFEST DESTINY LAYS A GOLDEN EGG 215 

rest and stability and the pause of fulfillment again. We still 
have fever in our blood. 

From the very beginning, the quasititative measure of value 
assumed a definite place in the American mentality. If one 
man built a house in the woods, the Indians would probably 
soon tomahawk him and his family, but if a dozen families 
■settled in a group, there might be comparative safety. In old, 
long-settled England, if a man prospered he might invest in 
acres added to his own, or houses to rent, or other opportunities 
which offered where population was fairly dense and stable. 
But for the first comers to America there was no chance to get 
ahead unless others came also, by birth or immigration. Had 
the earliest settlers at Jamestown or around Massachusetts 
Bay never increased, the value of their property never would 
have done so either. They might have made money by trading 
with the Old World, but there would have been nothing in the 
New into which to put it. Moreover, newcomers meant new 
interests and wider social opportunities. All motives — 
safety, profit, social intercourse, educational opportunities, 
everything — led the Americans to watch mounting figures of 
population growth with an eye to all that made life richer and 
pleasanter. 

This was an experience repeated on every successive frontier 
of the many America has known. Except for the very van- 
guard itself, — the hunters and trappers and professional 
frontiersmen, — the American has always wanted to see his 
community grow. In each beginning such growth has meant 
safety, social life, better schools, churches, roads, a rising value 
for his property and scale of living for himself and his family. 
The man who had bought land in Chicago at what for the 
moment had proved an extravagant price knew well that the 
only way for him to recoup was to have Chicago grow. If it 
grew enough, he might get his money back ; if it grew fast, he 
might be rich; if it grew as it has since grown, his grand- 
children would be rich beyond the wildest dreams. In the 
Old World, landowners had no such chance to multiply their 
values tenfold in a decade. There the markets for merchants or 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


ai6 

manufacturers were not multiplying with a population that 
doubled every twenty years. It was only in America that for 
the ordinary man the rosiest dreams might turn to truth if his 
luck were right. 

Each of us is likely to be the centre of his own universe. It 
would be hard for most of us to deny that whatever might 
bring us wealth, opportunity, consideration, was not somehow 
in itself beneficent. We are beginning to-day, under wholly 
altered conditions, to realize that size and quality are not 
necessarily commensurable, but it is easy to see how the 
typical American double concept of “bigger and better” came 
into being. In the last chapter, we noted how the American 
came to be preoccupied with business to the exclusion of the 
arts, even that of living, — an exclusion which had begun to 
develop in the eighteenth century, — and how business had 
become for him an absorbing game rather than a mere heaping 
of gold. In much the same way, the desire to make things grow 
“bigger and better,” to make his village into a town and his 
town into a city, came naturally to be a game. As he lost sight 
of the real end for which wealth is won, so likewise he tended 
to lose sight of the real end for which an increase in population 
may be desired. Like poker chips, his money measured his 
skill and success in business, and so, again like poker chips, the 
rising figures of population and Chamber of Commerce statis- 
tics measured his success in foresight and struggle in another 
way. Size, like wealth, came to be a mere symbol of “success,” 
and the sense of qualitative values was lost in the quantitative, 
the spiritual in the material. 

In the frontier stage, size, as also the material development 
of houses and farms and roads and stores, did mea.n the scaffold- 
ing on which a civilized life had to rest; and numerous fron- 
tiers burned that thought deep into the developing American 
soul. Unfortunately the scar which it left has been the trans- 
posing of ultimate value to the scaffolding instead of the civiliza- 
tion, and the adoration of business and size for themselves and 
not as means to lives of cultural value. As a professional 
athlete loses his sane idea of exercise as the foundation for a 


MANIFEST DESTINY LAYS A GOLDEN EGG 217 

sound mind in a sound body, and walps his whole life to de- 
veloping the physical basis of the union, so the citizenry tended 
to lose its sense of rational proportion. “Bigger and better” 
did mean something real at one time, but it was much easier, 
in a land of unlimited opportunity, to make things bigger than 
to make them better, and in working for bigness first we came 
to a great extent to forget the ultimate purpose of humane 
value. 

It was largely in the period from 1830 to 1850, when the 
nation was growing like a weed, that this conception took its 
deep root among us, although the germ had always been pres- 
ent. Together with it there grew up naturally another Ameri- 
can trait, that of “boosting” and of objecting to criticism as 
“kicking.” This is a perfectly natural, indeed almost an 
inevitable, double corollary to the need, real or imaginary, of 
constant and rapid growth. At the positive pole, “boosting” 
tended to help growth; and, at the negative one, criticism 
might hinder it. The first, like building up a business, thus 
became regarded as a patriotic virtue, whereas the second, like 
leisure, became a sin against the nation. 

At one stage of our growth, everything desirable seemed to 
depend, and to a great extent really did depend, upon steady 
and rapid increase in size. The man who joined a community 
and did his utmost to hasten its growth was not simply an 
additional unit in a population which might have been just as 
happy and prosperous without his being numbered among it, 
but he was recognized as adding to the prosperity and further- 
ing the ambitions of every other member who had already cast 
his lot and invested his work or money in the community. 
On the other hand, each man who left the community decreased 
the prospects of success for all the others. Criticism of faults, 
or even a cold appraisal of facts, might deter others from coming. 
Especially after the West started on its development, almost 
every settlement was a wild gamble. A cluster of houses might 
be a potential Pittsburgh, Cleveland, or Chicago, or after a 
dozen years of hard work and the sinking of the settlers’ capital 
might relapse into wilderness. Individualists as the settlers 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


ai8 

were, in many respects, success in State building could come 
only by cooperation. The man who shouted “bigger and 
better” cooperated. The man who criticized or went back East 
was considered not only a “kicker,” but a dangerous enemy to 
growth, who should be overwhelmed with scorn. Such men, 
as one newspaper said in 1841, were “recreants,” “worse than 
drones, for they impede the labors of the industrious.” Men 
who doubted success in any direction whatever “ought to 
receive the withering scorn and derision of a nation which 
claims to have no superiors in knowledge and the arts.” 

The later odd aversion, in a nation wholly made up of 
immigrants of one generation or another, toward any of our 
citizens who expatriate themselves for a while, springs straight 
from this frontier prejudice. He who went abroad became 
hated both as a lost unit in a population which must be made 
ever larger, and also as a critic, albeit even a silent one, who 
might “give the place a bad name” and hinder others from 
coming. It was the enormous possibilities of developing the 
West that enrolled business as one of the virtues. It was the 
genuine need of our successive frontiers for increased popula- 
tion that, with the materializing of our values, confused for 
three generations and more the twin concepts of bigger and 
better, and made the critic a “recreant.” 

In another respect the frontier did us harm in training us not 
to see what we do not want to see. The earlier frontiers of the 
seventeenth century had been made up merely of homes 
“farther out,” homes still intended to be permanent. The 
Connecticut River Valley, for example, had been first a “fron- 
tier” of Massachusetts Bay, but it was not long before it took 
on an aspect of cultivated permanence, and in a few generations 
the boast could be made that ther^ was no more smiling 
landscape in Old England itself. However, as people gradually 
got the habit more and more of moving on, when more genuine 
frontiers came to be planted again and again, both the hard 
work and the sense of impermanence tended to make for a 
shiftless disregard of surroundings. The first few years of any 
settlement are years of grinding toil, and while the very 


MANIFEST DESTINY LAYS A GOLDEN EGG 219 

foundations are being laid there is no thought or energy to be 
devoted to such amenities as flower gardens, trees, or even mere 
neatness and cleanliness out of doors. Such things have to 
come later ; and little by little, as people got used to moving on, 
to devoting themselves to the quickest exploitation of every 
settlement and neighborhood, they came to care less and less 
about general appearances. Like intellectual culture, such 
things came to be considered foolish ornament for those who 
were effeminate in taste and not up to a real man’s work. How 
deeply this frontier willingness to overlook one’s surroundings 
entered into the American make-up is evident in all parts of the 
country to-day. The five hours’ railway journey from New 
York to Washington, from our largest metropolis to the Capital 
of the nation, is rendered hideous by the survival of this 
frontier trait, as are our country roads. It is another example 
of how values tended to become debased on the frontier to the 
lowest common denominator of utilitarianism. 

We cannot understand our traits unless we find- their roots, 
and it was impossible that we should outgrow frontier charac- 
teristics so long as the frontier remained a dominant moulding 
force in our national life. It was the West that had dragged 
American culture from its eighteenth-century quiet mooring. 
It was the West that was building up Eastern manufacturing 
and Eastern fortunes, and it was the West that was dominat- 
ing the American mind and outlook, in spite of the smug 
Boston Brahmins and shipowners, New York bankers, or 
Southern cotton magnates. American life was in full flood, 
and it was impossible for anyone to keep dry feet. Neverthe- 
less, over all the tumbling waters of materialism, and through 
the rifts in the clouds of issues that would later have to be 
faced, shone yet a light of idealism. 

The American did not believe he was selling his soul to 
Mammon, but thought he was merely pledging it for the 
moment, as he was ready to pledge anything he owned, with the 
hope of ultimate gain. He could not be quite comfortable 
about devoting himself solely to business until he had made it 
a virtue, and he always looked forward to a future which would 


220 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


justify spiritually his intense present preoccupation with the 
material. Even the transcendental Emerson was swept with 
the current and wrote that somehow art would come to us in a 
new form, raising “to a divine use the railroad, the insurance 
office, the joint-stock company, our law, our primary assem- 
blies, our commerce.” We were enjoying the most glorious 
chance to get rich quick that had ever been vouchsafed to the 
human race, but we could not eat our meat, as heirs of a 
civilized scale of values, without its being blessed in the name 
of mind and spirit. We were boilingly busy. We must make 
our fortunes while there was still a chance in a new country. 
Some day you would see. The ways of God were mysterious, 
and if we only made the insurance office and the joint-stock 
company profitable enough to ourselves, they would be changed 
to spiritual values. Just how Astor’s twenty millions made 
him any more of a spiritual asset to the nation than Washing- 
ton’s half million had made him, or his farm and scarce any- 
thing else had made John Adams, was not dwelt upon. Nor 
would it be likely to be, as long as frontier stretched beyond 
frontier toward the ever-retreating sun. The pot of actual gold 
was within our grasp. It was the spiritual gold that lay at the 
end of the rainbow. 

Meanwhile, the West was harvesting villages, towns, and 
cities. “Or Man River” swept past populous communities and 
bound them together in his hundred arms. In the East, short 
stretches of railways had been built and there were a few in the 
West, but as yet water and the wagon road held their own. 
The Fulton-Livingston-Roosevelt combination in New York 
had tried to monopolize the steamboat building on the Western 
Waters, but Captain Henry M. Shreve, who built the first 
“double-decker” on the river, had won his fight against them, 
and by 1834 so important had the river navigation become 
that the government employed him to clear the stream of snags 
with his newly invented “snag boat.” In the forties the West 
had more marine tonnage than the entire Atlantic seaboard. 
New Orleans alone in 1843 having twice that of New York, our 
greatest Atlantic port of the time. 


MANIFEST DESTINY LAYS A GOLDEN EGG 221 

By the mid-century there were probably a thousand boats 
operating regularly on the Mississippi. Even at the beginning 
of our period, in 1834, the steam tonnage on that river — 
39,000 — was nearly half that of the whole British Empire, 
and it multiplied sixfold in sixteen years. Over the unknown 
spot where De Soto had been given his watery grave in the 
midst of a continental wilderness, there now raced against each 
other great boats, gleaming with lights at night, costing a 
hundred thousand dollars and more, carrying their picturesque 
hundred or two of passengers — gamblers, merchants, slaves and 
immigrants, fur traders, cotton planters, every imaginable 
type of humanity — and cargoes of every sort of merchandise. 
Of accidents there were plenty. Even when the fires were not 
being fed with resin or oil-soaked wood, while safety valves 
were illegally fastened down, in the races between steamers 
which were a favorite form of river sport, the snags, sand bars, 
explosions, and sudden conflagrations of the flimsy super- 
structures often resulted in heavy loss of life. Boats had to be 
light, as they were built for speed and shallow water. Indeed, 
they drew so little that they could almost have floated in the 
whiskey consumed on them in a single trip. This great period, 
up to the Civil War, bred a motley and picturesque life. 
Mark Twain has immortalized the pilots, but, important as 
they were, they were only part of the varied lot engaged in the 
river traffic. 

As the boat swung out from her landing at New Orleans, the 
dock would be lined with negroes singing to their comrades, 
who made up a good part of the crew : — 

“ Farewell, brothers, if you ’s gwine fo’ to go. 

We ’ll weep fo’ to see you’ face once mo’.” 

The roustabouts, like all who have to do with boats, had their 
songs for their work, and an Eastern traveler would watch 
them, amused, as they would take on the wood for fuel with 

“ Ducks play cards and chickens drink wine, 

And de monkey grow on de grapevine. 

Corn-starch pudding and tapioca pie. 

Oh, de gray cat pick out de black cat’s eye!” 


%T1 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


It was not only the ducks who played cards and the chickens 
who drank wine in those roistering days. Everyone did, almost, 
and one of the most picturesque features of the river was the 
professional gamblers who were nearly as much a part of the 
ship’s company as the captain and the crew. They formed 
here, as throughout the West, a type of their own, easily- to be 
picked out by their faces even when they did not assume the 
gaudy and flashy raiment of many of the profession. There 
was little time lost in getting up a game, often at the bar, where 
the Easterner could be picked out by his whiskey cordial, the 
Southerner by his julep, and the Westerner by his tumblerful of 
whiskey straight with no effeminate water after, even if the 
sectional classification were not made easy by other charac- 
teristics. 

The gambling gentry frequently abused their privileges, 
and the term “lynch law” seems to have been coined about 
1834 to meet the need of dealing with them, and in particular 
of hanging one of them at Vicksburg. It may have been 
difficult to frame a legal case, but at that time we were entering 
upon the most lawless period we have ever known. We have 
already noted the various causes which had, for long, bred 
disrespect for law as law in America. With the period beginning 
about 1830, however, we enter upon a new phase. Up to that 
time, almost all our lawbreaking had to do with business trans- 
actions. America, as contrasted with Europe, had been 
singularly free of crimes against the person, and it is not easy 
to trace the causes of the change. The great distress caused 
by the panic may have been a small contributing influence, 
but was assuredly not the cause- The problem was one which 
concerned the whole country, and, although I treat of it in 
this chapter, we may also ignore the life of the West as a cause. 
It is true that the great wave of crimes of personal violence 
which swept over us in these decades, for the first time, coin- 
cided with the very rapid westward advance, just as it did 
with the great stream of foreign immigration, but I think both 
these may be dismissed. The frontier always breeds a certain 
lawlessness in its early stages, but we had been living on 


MANIFEST DESTINY LAYS A GOLDEN EGG 223 

successive frontiers for two centuries, and the West of this 
period was scarcely more lawless than the East or South. 
Moreover, although there were many mob clashes in the 
industrial sections between the foreigners and the Americans, 
in almost every case it was the latter who were the aggressors, 
and we cannot lay the violence of the period at the immigrants’ 
door. There were scarcely any of them in the South or West, 
at which sections, on account of their crime, the East liked to 
point the finger of scorn. 

As a matter of fact, there was no section of the country which 
could play the Pharisee with regard to the others on this score. 
The Philadelphia Ledger had scarcely read Arkansas a moral 
lecture, because the Speaker of the House of Representatives 
in that Western State had plunged a bowie knife into a member 
on the floor, when it had to record a felonious assault of one 
member of the Pennsylvania legislature on another, also on the 
'floor; and members of Congress went armed in the Capital at 
Washington. The whole period was punctuated not only by 
murders, lynchings, and mobs in the South and West, but by 
similar happenings in the Middle States and New England, 
directed largely against immigrants, negroes, and Catholics. 
The burning of the Ursuline Convent near Boston was merely 
one of the most notorious of these. That at Providence was also 
attacked, several Catholic churches were burned in New Hamp- 
shire, and a priest was tarred and feathered in Maine, while 
there was serious rioting in New York, Philadelphia, Balti- 
mc^e, and other Northern cities. In April 1840, a New York 
journal pointed out that although New York had a population 
of only 300,000 against a,ooo,ooo in London, there were seven- 
teen murders in the smaller city to one in the larger. A Phila- 
delphia paper two year? before had also noted that there were 
more murders in the South in one year than in Italy in five. 

Even making all allowance for the panic, for the rising 
passions over the slavery issue and abolition, and other con- 
temporary influences, it is evident something had happened 
in our country. Lincoln wrote bitterly that “law and order 
had broken down,” that “wild and furious passions” were 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


2,24 

substituted for “the sober judgments of the courts,” and that 
“outrages committed by mobs form the everyday news of the 
times,” “common to the whole country.” 

Treading warily in trying to trace the beginning of one of the 
most sinister forces in our national life, I would hazard three 
influences as operative — a false ideal of education, the political 
ideal of citizen as ruler, and the muddling of morals by having 
given business success the rank of a moral virtue. 

In the American colonies the old system of apprenticeship 
had largely disappeared. As in all new countries, the quality of 
work counted for less than getting work done, even of make- 
shift sort. The constant migrating of much of the population 
had broken down a good deal of the restraint and training of 
the home, and these had not been supplied by the new educa- 
tional system. One intelligent foreign observer of this period 
noted that the children in America were taught more and trained 
less than in Europe. The educational system, devised by the 
people for the people, did not aim at all at training either mind 
or character, but only at instilling facts useful for making a 
living. 

The American political philosophy, from the discussions of 
the Revolutionary era onward, has notably dealt with the 
rights of the citizens and not with the duties of the subject. 
The very word “subject” becafne abhorrent. Yet, even if the 
people are sovereign, it is evident that the individual is still 
subject. We may be subject to ourselves in our collective 
capacity as the “sovereign people,” but we are subject. Fol- 
lowing the winning of independence, the ordinary American 
had liked to refer to himself as a “king,” but if we are all kings, 
and no one is subject, the only result is anarchy. There de- 
veloped, however, especially in these ,first days of manhood 
suffrage, an objection to enforcing laws unpleasantly against 
one’s fellow “sovereigns.” 

An instructive example occurred during a serious riot in 
Baltimore in this period, when the city was at the mercy of a 
mob. A body of citizens met in the Exchange and were busy 
drawing up a set of resolutions in favor of public order while a 


MANIFEST DESTINY LAYS A GOLDEN EGG 225 


crowd of drunken men and boys were absurdly threatening the 
town. An old revolutionary soldier, eighty-four years of age, 
finally broke in with “Damn your resolutions 1 Give me a 
sword and thirty men and I will restore order.” “But, General 
Smith,” said the man who was proposing the resolutions, 
“would you fire on your fellow citi2ens “Those who break 
the laws, drive their neighbors from their houses, plunder their 
property, and reduce their wives and children to beggary, are 
not my fellow citizens ! ” thundered the old man, who was soon 
after elected mayor of Baltimore and did restore order. The 
Americans, as I noted earlier, had during the colonial period 
got into the habit of obeying only such laws as they chose. 
It was an easy step for the authorities, when the people became 
sovereign, to enforce only those laws that would be popular 
when they were enforced. Even sovereign States, North, 
South, and West, had constantly threatened nullification of 
national statutes. 

Of the moral muddle into which we got by raising money- 
making to the rank of a patriotic and moral virtue I have 
already spoken. This was a cancer that ate deep into the vitals 
of our life. It meant not merely that profit could be set off 
against order, — as in one State, which, having calculated the 
cost of an adequate police force and of a canal, voted for the 
canal, — but the demoralization of our whole attitude toward 
law and public life. 

The balancing of making money for one’s self as a patriotic 
virtue against obeying law or trying to maintain an incorrupt- 
ible public service as another patriotic virtue, commensurable 
in quantitative terms, had completely befuddled our moral 
conscience. The failure to enforce law, on the part of everyone, 
from a Western sheriff to the Federal Congress, also confused 
the issue. We have already seen how the failure of Congress to 
enforce the law relating to payment for Western lands had 
brought about such great injustice as to break down to a con- 
siderable extent the Westerner’s economic integrity. This was 
repeated in the preemption laws. Settlement outran the 
government land agents, and when lands came to be sold at 


226 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


auction the question arose of what to do with the settler who 
had already squatted on it, preempted it. Should he lose all 
his improvements or pay a high price as against some specula- 
tive bidder ? To protect him a benevolent but weak govern- 
ment ruled that he should have no competitors at the sale, but 
be allowed to acquire title at the minimum government price. 
On the other hand, the bona-fide new settler asked himself, 
if that were so, why should he be forced to pay high against a 
speculator when he was complying with the law more fully 
than the squatter ? From this situation developed all sorts of 
illegal methods, often including violence or threats of it, to 
secure land at minimum prices and prevent any real competi- 
tion at the auctions. Thus once more the inability of the govern- 
ment to deal wisely and strongly with a far-reaching problem of 
fundamental importance to vast numbers of our most virile 
and active citizens had become a force deeply corrupting to 
public conscience. 

Like a disease suffered by a youth of abounding vitality, 
however, these centres of infection in the body politic were 
lightly thrown off. With the exception of a few voices of indi- 
viduals and occasional journals, the general lawlessness and 
corruption were treated without seriousness and even with 
levity. It is often only when the youth has reached maturity 
that the effects of early disease«:become painfully apparent. 

Meanwhile the youth felt the blood coursing in his veins, 
and he was throwing himself into the work of carving out his 
future with infinite gusto. The momentary thought of a 
western boundary marked by a line of forts protecting an 
Indian preserve had passed almost as quickly as it had arisen. 
Texas, with a territory as large as France, kept knocking at our 
doors for admission to the Union of States. The annual cara- 
vans which set out from Independence to trade with the New 
Mexico country carried our minds toward the Southwest and 
California. The other lines up into the fur country or over the 
Oregon Trail to the Pacific Coast likewise carried our minds 
thither. From Oregon, settlers were straggling down the coast 
into northern California. Like a huge lobster’s claws we were 


MANIFEST DESTINY LAYS A GOLDEN EGG 227 

beginning to nip the Pacific Coast at north and south, with the 
Desert and the mountain ranges in between, and as yet but 
little regarded. In every direction the finger of fate beckoned 
westward. Someone had coined the phrase “Manifest Des- 
tiny” and no one needed to be told that it meant inevitable 
expansion to the Pacific at any cost. To be sure, we had pledged 
our national honor to the Indians when we allotted them the 
Desert, and the Mexicans owned the mountains and the coast, 
but racial pride classed the Mexican Spanish and half-breeds 
with the savages, and two centuries of broken treaties with 
them had accustomed us to paying no attention to rights that 
conflicted with our own expanding energy. The British had tried 
to confine us within a line along the Appalachian watershed in 
1763, and population had poured over the imaginary line like 
water bursting through a dike. The expansion of population 
and its westward sweep on the American continent have been 
one of the greatest movements in the history of the human race 
— a movement involving tens of millions of individuals, un- 
thinking, collective, unmoral, akin, in all save its incredible 
swiftness, to the inevitable advance of a glacier. 

More and more, American life was taking on the characteris- 
tics of a mass phenomenon. Down to 1840, all the men who 
had been elected President had been outstanding national 
figures. But the day for these had passed. The system of 
nomination by Congressional caucus had given way to our 
present system of national conventions which made it almost 
impossible for any candidate not a professional politician or in 
close touch with the party machine to secure a nomination. 
Moreover, sectional interests and the bulk of the mass began to 
demand a man on whom all could unite, which meant a man 
who was sufficiently unknown or sufficiently colorless to have 
aroused no strong antagonism. In 1840 he was found in the 
West, and the innocuous old Indian fighter, General Harrison, 
was swept into the White House in a campaign in which there 
was no pretense of discussing principles, but which was merely 
a whirlwind of catchwords. The “hard cider” and coonskin- 
cap campaign became a landmark in our political history, and 



' ^ ' ' l l 1 ' I L I J 






228 THE EPIC OF AMERICA 

the Indians in the Desert, if they knew anything about it, 
might well have pondered their destiny when they learned that 
old “Tippecanoe” had been elected as the “Great White 
Father” largely because of the popularity worked up for his 
having defeated them in a battle which marked one of the stages 
of our broken faith. 

Although “Tippecanoe and Tyler too” won the election, the 
old General lived only a month, and four years later a still less 
known person, Mr. James K. Polk of Tennessee, was nominated 
by the Democrats. Everyone might ask, bewildered, “ Who is 
Polk?” but he stood for a policy of Western expansion and 
defeated the brilliant Henry Clay. There was nothing brilliant 
about Polk. His mind was intensely limited in interests, and 
there is no evidence that he knew or cared anything for history, 
literature, or art, or even for many of the amenities of life. 
Dancing was banished from the White House, where social 
events became frigid. But although Polk’s personality was 
colorless, it was far from spineless. He could formulate a policy 
and push it through, and the policy he chose added a half 
million square miles to the national domain. In his lack of 
culture and personality, his narrow and undistinguished mind, 
his unmorality rather than immorality, he typified the move- 
ment of expansion itself as a natural force. That movement 
could override the Indians without government formalities; 
but, although the settlers might care no more for a Mexican 
than for a Shawnee, when the Mexican border should be 
crossed, international complications would ensue. If Mani- 
fest Destiny were to reach San Francisco, it would have to do 
so via Washington. It had been a mass movement, but at last 
it could act only through an individual. That is the signifi- 
cance of James K. Polk. 

Among the demands of the campaign had been the settle- 
ment of the Oregon question with England and the annexation 
of Texas. Polk had nothing to do with the latter, for a week 
before he entered office Congress passed the necessary Joint 
Resolution, and the day before he became President his pred- 
ecessor sent word to the Texan Republic that the way was open 


MANIFEST DESTINY LAYS A GOLDEN EGG 229 


for her to become a State of the Union, Polk at once turned, 
however, to the problem of Oregon. Both England and Amer- 
ica had claimed the whole of that country, and there were 
settlers of both nationalities living there. The campaign cry 
had been for a boundary along latitude “Fifty-four-forty or 
fight,” and there had previously been several attempts at 
negotiation. After two years Polk was able to report that 
a compromise, highly favorable to the American side, had 
been reached with the British. This gave us practically 
all of the Columbia River and set the boundary at the 49th 
parallel, with a clear title out to the Pacific on our northwest. 
Polk, who had neither love nor fear of England and who was 
never deterred by scruples of abstract right, might probably 
have held out for more had he not wished to have his hands 
free for even larger game — California. 

Mexico had protested against our annexation of Texas, 
whose independence she had never acknowledged, and she had 
withdrawn her Minister from Washington. That was a natural 
move and in no way signified war. European nations as well 
as ourselves had acknowledged Texas as an independent State, 
and the question whether or not we had any right under our 
own Constitution to annex another nation, as many denied, 
was purely a domestic one for ourselves. Mexico had no 
intention of declaring war. War. was necessary, however, for 
Polk’s plans, and would have to be forced. In June 1845, 
orders were sent to the commander of our naval squadron in the 
Pacific to be ready to seize San Francisco as soon as he should 
hear that Mexico had opened hostilities. Our Consul at 
Monterey was also informed that, whereas we could use no 
influence to cause California to revolt against Mexico, we would 
gladly receive her into the United States if she should do so of 
her own volition. Other mines were also laid, 

Polk next turned to claims of somewhat less than five million 
dollars which American citizens had against Mexico for bonds, 
concessions, and the usual odds and ends that can be easily 
accumulated for such a purpose, Polk olfered to assume these 
if Mexico would acknowledge the Rio Grande as the southern 


230 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


boundary of Texas, although for a century that boundary had 
always been the Nueces River, He offered another five million 
for New Mexico, and stated, like a corporation lawyer building 
up a merger of competing plants, that “money would be no 
object” if Mexico would sell us California. Needless to say, 
no Mexican government could have accepted such an offer 
and stood for a moment, the very making of it being an insult 
to the pride of the Mexicans, a quality which the Expansionists 
felt the Mexicans had no right to possess. Moreover, in spite 
of the fact that Mexico had declined to receive a “Minister” 
although she would a “Commissioner,” which was diplomati- 
cally correct, Polk had insisted on accrediting his representative 
as Minister. The latter was refused a reception, and Polk at 
once ordered General Taylor to advance with troops across 
the Nueces to the Rio Grande. Mexican territory had now been 
invaded by our armed forces, but even yet she offered to negoti- 
ate our differences. Meanwhile, Taylor had attacked the town 
of Matamoros, and a small body of Mexicans crossed the Rio 
Grande and had a skirmish with him. A fortnight later, Polk 
sent a message to Congress asking for a declaration of war on the 
ground that our patience was exhausted ; that Mexico had in- 
vaded our territories ; and that she had shed American blood on 
American soil, although the title to the soil was so uncertain 
that Polk had just offered to pay Mexico five million for it. 

War, of course, was declared, and a month later, on June I4, 
some American settlers in the Sacramento Valley in California 
raised the flag of revolt and declared their independence. 
We need not follow the military events of the conquest. In 
Mexico, under General Scott, there were brilliant operations, 
and we could take much pride in the feats of our troops had the 
cause itself been somewhat clearer on the side of justice. 
On February 2, 1848, by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, 
we agreed to assume the Mexican claims, later adjudicated at 
only a little over three million dollars, and to pay Mexico an 
additional fifteen million in exchange roughly for Texas to the 
Rio Grande, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, California, 
and a good part of Colorado. Even the plunder of Cortez 


MANIFEST DESTINY LAYS A GOLDEN EGG 231 

paled in comparison, and within a few months California was 
to yield a store of gold the like of which he had never seen even 
in Aztec treasuries. With slight rectifications along the border, 
the continental United States had now assumed its present 
form. Manifest Destinyhadtaken nearly a quarter of our con- 
tinental area at a gulp. A few hundred thousand Indians 
were merely pepper on the meat. 

Even before we acquired title in these two years to nearly 
a third of our present territory, extending from the Gulf to 
Puget Sound, and embracing everything from the Plains to the 
Pacific, a considerable American population had already settled 
in what has come to be called the “Far West.” In 1847 the 
Mormons, after much persecution in the Middle West of 
Missouri and Illinois, had trekked into the Mexican wilderness 
and settled around Great Salt Lake, and within a few months 
five thousand or more had firmly laid the foundations of a new 
State under Brigham Young. There were also settlements or 
stray settlers all up and down the Pacific Coast, and from 1845 
to 1849 their numbers were rapidly increasing. With the ex- 
ception of the Mormons, they were of the usual type of pioneers, 
but late in 1848 the discovery of gold in the mill race on 
Sutter’s ranch near Sacramento altered not only the history 
of the State but that of the whole nation. The first discovery 
was made just a week before we acquired title to the El Dorado 
from Mexico, and there have been few more striking accidents 
of coincidence. It soon became evident that the deposits here 
and there as hurriedly investigated were fabulously rich. 
At once the greatest gold rush in history began, and the “Forty- 
Niners,” as the first-yearmen at once came to be called, have 
forever taken their place in our picturesque history with the 
Pilgrim Fathers, the pioneer, and the cowboy. They came 
from every part of the country, by overland trail, across the 
Isthmus of Panama, around the Horn. By 1850, California, 
which three years before had been a foreign State with its 
Mexican ranch owners, its Spanish missions, and a few scattered 
American farmers or ranchers, held nearly a hundred thousand 
Americans and was in a turmoil. 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


232 

Thus far every American frontier had been settled by agricul- 
turists after the first advance stage of hunters and trappers and 
Indian traders. Except for the broad distinction between 
North and South, slave and free, plantation and farm econo- 
mies, there had been a marked uniformity of social and intellec- 
tual life on all of them. In this respect the settlement of 
California offered a complete contrast. Every type of citizen 
of every social grade and profession came, not to hew forests, 
farms, and make homes, but to get rich as quickly as possible 
by a happy stroke of luck. Clerks, sailors, lawyers, doctors, 
farmers, even clergymen, everyone who loved adventure or 
believed in luck, tramped, rode, or sailed to the newest promise 
in the Land of Promises. On the coast, the crews of almost 
every vessel that touched there deserted and scrambled to the 
“diggings.” Back East the exodus became a craze. In a few 
months San Francisco leaped from a few houses to a city of 
more than twenty , thousand, catering to every sort of vice and 
extravagance. No town could ever have more belied its patron 
saint! 

For the first few years, the feverish life of gold seeking, the 
recklessness engendered by sudden gain and as sudden loss, the 
almost complete absence of decent women, all made for a kind 
of frontier. In 1850 only 2 per cent of the population of the 
mining counties were women and it is quite uncertain how many 
of them would have come under our classification of decent. 
Most of the men had come with no intention of remaining, but 
had expected to return home as soon as they had made the 
fortune which they anticipated would inevitably await them. 
The first year five million dollars in gold was found, and by 
1853, the annual amount had risen to about sixty million 
dollars, after which it began to decline. There was no machin- 
ery for maintaining law and order until the Vigilance Com- 
mittees undertook the work regularly in 1856, the Alta Cali- 
fornia, a San Francisco journal, noting the next year that 
between the Americans’ taking over of the city and the be- 
ginning of the Vigilance Committees there had been twelve 
hundred murders in the place, with only three hangings- 


MANIFEST DESTINY LAYS A GOLDEN EGG 233 



Everyone had gone armed as a matter of course, and a con- 
siderable part of the American people had had another taste 
of taking the law into their own hands. 

The discovery of gold had given our newly won possession 
on the Pacific a start in population which it would have other- 
wise taken long to get, but gold was not all. After the first 
fever wore itself out, many stayed and others came because of 
the attractions of the climate and the business opportunities. 
“The coast,” however, was always to remain differentiated 
from all other frontiers. Not only was there a much greater 
mingling there of all types instead of the uniformity of other 
frontiers, as we have noted, but also it diflFered in that its 
sudden population was made up, not for the most part of people 
who had come from just a little way back, but of those who had 
come vast distances, and in large part from the Eastern States. 
Just as there was less uniformity of origin and occupation, so 
there was less uniformity of thought, and considerably less 
equalitarianism socially and politically. 

In another point also it differed widely. On all other fron- 
tiers, capital accumulated very slowly and had to be borrowed 
from the older settlements. In California, capital was created 
in the form of gold dug from the ground almost more rapidly 
than means to employ it could be found. For this reason 
a different attitude was noticeable there toward wealth and its 
possessors from the start. There was none of the psychology 
which has its root in the problem of the absentee capitalist. 
The climate, the different form of agriculture, and the hundreds 
of miles of mountain barrier between them and the rest of the 
United States, tended likewise to emphasize the sectional 
characteristics. 

By 1850 four sections^ had thus emerged into clear light — 
the North, the South, the Middle West, and the Far West. 
We shall consider in the next chapter more particularly the 
feelings which had been aroused by the annexation of Texas, 
the Mexican War, the whole problem of slavery and economics, 
which were rapidly tending to render the sectional differences 
more dangerous. Here we need only note that in the Far West 


^34 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


a capitalistic system and outlook had sprung up almost over- 
night as part of the very structure of the new society. In the 
North, industrialism had completely conquered the old agrari- 
anism. In the South, slavery had built up a type of civilization 
which was quite different from anything in America in 1776 . 
The old Americanism was to be found in the Middle West, 
which was yet preponderantly the land of the small town, the 
small farmer, and the pioneer — “folks.” To be sure, the 
lengthening shadows of eastern North and South had crept 
over the Valley also, but in its upper portion, what we call the 
“Middle West” to-day, the old American dream lingered 
because it still had foundation in the economic and social life 
of the people. 

In spite of the deepening shadow creeping over the whole 
land, we refused to look up from our preoccupations. We were 
working more feverishly than ever. California gold had given 
an impetus to every business and created the basis for another 
great structure of credit. We were getting richer, more 
numerous, busier every year. Back in the East, Herman 
Melville had written an American classic, Moby Dick, but no 
one knew or cared what the “White Whale” signified or 
whether there was any evil in the universe. We preferred 
Emerson, who apparently neither knew nor much cared, 
either, and who asked us to" be spiritual and cultured, but 
hopefully looked, like the rest of us, for spirit to evolve some- 
how from matter, and blessed our railroads to a divine use. 
But the dark cloud in the American sky grew blacker and was 
spreading. It assumed fantastic shapes. Was it smoke from 
the chimney of a Northern factory, or the gigantic image of a 
negro slave ? In a decade the lightning would leap from it with 
blinding flashes and the thunders echo on a hundred battle- 
fields. Meanwhile, “01’ Man River” flowed through the great 
Valley to its portal on the Gulf. The South stretched its 
plantations from the Atlantic to the Rio Grande. The North 
could not live without the West, and the Middle West could 
not live without its oudet on the Gulf. The dark cloud might 
be reflected on the broad surface of the Mississippi, but “01’ 


MANIFEST DESTINY LAYS A GOLDEN EGG 235 

Man R.iver^' flowed on ; and, whatever might happen to paper 
constitutions, as long as he flowed there must remain eventual 
unity on the continent. In his mighty arms he held us all. 

or man river, dat or man river, 

He must know sumpin’, but don’t say nothin’, 

He just keeps rollin’. 

He keeps on rollin’ along.^ 

1 Copyright 1927 by T. B. Harms Co,, N. Y. (Reproduced by special permission 
of the copyright owners.) 


BROTHERS’ BLOOD 

There have always been two opposing forces operating on 
American life and character. Just as democracy stresses the 
value of the individual human being yet tends to equalize the 
economic and social status of all, so we saw in the last chapter 
that, in spite of the strong individualism generated on the fron- 
tier, the State builders found tfiey had to rely upon the coopera- 
tion of all to give the individual his largest opportunity of profit 
and happiness. In order that the individual might prosper, 
he found it needful to enforce a certain uniformity of effort and 
outlook on all the other individuals. The same opposition of 
forces and ideals has always been present in our political 
philosophy. The Declaration of Independence had announced 
to the world, not that “these united colonies are, and of right 
ought to be,” a free and independent Nation, but “free and 
independent States” When the old Confederation proved 
too loose a bond to serve any useful purpose, our Federal Con- 
stitution was adopted, tightening up the Union ; but, like all 
compromise documents, it left many points untouched for a 


BROTHERS' BLOOD 


237 


more convenient time. Whether a “ Sovereign State ” was 
superior or inferior to the Federal government was one of these 
points, carefully dodged by the Fathers. 

The vast westward expansion had operated in the usual 
double way. It had put an increasing strain on the Constitu- 
tion and yet was to prove at the most critical point in our his- 
tory the chief unifying force. The original thirteen States 
had been sovereign and independent before the United States 
came into being. There was no doubt about that. Texas 
had also been so when admitted to the Union. All the rest 
were clearly the creatures of Congress, although they were 
admitted with all the rights of the original States. Had we 
not secured, in all the varied ways we did, the Western domain 
beyond the Appalachian Mountains, our constitutional and 
other problems would have been much simpler, and probably 
our life as a Federal State much briefer. The Sovereign States 
which had united would have felt comparatively free to with- 
draw, and although it might have been inconvenient or unwise 
for a single one to do so alone, yet when so complete a division 
of interest appeared as between North and South by i860, a 
break-up would have been comparatively simple and almost 
inevitable. The problem, however, was enormously increased 
by the presence of the West. Practically all the territory across 
the Appalachian Mountains had been acquired by the United 
States. It was a vast property in common, and if constitu- 
tional questions with regard to it were, more than once, nearly 
to wreck the Union, it was the unifying influence of the Great 
Valley which was at the last to save it. 

The Constitution was silent as to any powers to acquire 
foreign territory, and, if acquired, as to how to administer it. 
When Jefferson had been confronted with the need for instant 
decision as to whethe? to take the Louisiana Territory when 
offered or lose it for the nation, he took it, but believing the 
action to be unconstitutional, and with the expectation that an 
amendment to the Constitution would be made validating it. 
None ever was, and John Quincy Adams was equally convinced 
that we had no constitutional right whatever to incorporate 


2^8 THE EPIC OF AMERICA 

within our government a foreign sovereign State such as Texas. 
Both statesmen, and those who believed with them, would ap- 
pear to have been right, unless the wording of the Constitution 
may be so stretched as to cover anything under Heaven desired 
by us. Our general theory as to how new and unorganized 
territory should be developed into States was, as I pointed out 
earlier, a very wise one, but, as it was wholly extra-constitu- 
tional, there were plenty of dangerous lacuna in it. 

By the 1840’s the question of slavery was arousing more and 
more bitter feelings between the sections. The agitation by the 
Abolitionists in the North, the attempt of the Southern mem- 
bers in Congress, by voting against receiving petitions relat- 
ing to slavery, to abrogate the right of petition guaranteed to 
citizens in the Constitution, and other factors had roused pas- 
sion on both sides. By a large party in the North the annexa- 
tion of Texas and the subsequent war with Mexico had been 
visualized solely as an attempt on the part of the South 
to extend slave territory in the Union. Since the Missouri 
Compromise of i8ao, which had prohibited slavery north of 
36° 30', statesmen in all sections had made heroic efforts to keep 
the question settled, but it was fast getting out of their hands. 

The war with Mexico over, and the loot safely lodged in the 
Union, the usual question of its administration came up. Polk 
wished wisely that the old line of 36°3o'' simply be run westward 
and no questions raised, but a Pennsylvanian Representative 
in Congress, David Wilmot, thought otherwise and in time 
precipitated a crisis. The insatiable Polk was trying to get 
through Congress a bill to buy a small additional strip from 
Mexico, and to this Wilmot tried again to insert a provision to 
the effect that slavery should never exist in territory acquired 
from Mexico, As the territory was far to the south of the dead 
line, the Southern members at once, and quite naturally, 
launched a savage debate. “Wilmot’s Proviso,” as it was 
called, was utterly unnecessary and was merely a match tossed 
into the combustible situation. Never passed, its importance 
was in reopening the whole question of the powers which 
Congress possessed over territories, the bitterness of the 


BROTHERS’ BLOOD 


239 


previous few years now leading the South to make the new 
claim that there was not only no right to prohibit slavery, but, 
quite to the contrary, a moral duty to protect it as a property 
right. The fat was in the fire. 

As the months passed, feelings became more embittered. 
Little by little the cords, which had bound North and South 
together had been breaking under the strain of the Northern 
attack on slavery and the Southern defense of it. Three of 
the great church denominations had already split into inde- 
pendent Northern and Southern bodies. The Congress which 
met in December 1849 'was so bitterly factional that sixty- 
three ballots had to be taken to elect a Speaker in the House. 
Three of the elder statesmen, worn out by age, were yet present 
— Webster, Calhoun, and Clay. They came at the end of 
their years and strength to take their parts in the great debate 
to save the Union. California had already written freedom 
into her new Constitution, and in any case neither the soil, the 
climate, nor the occiipations of that State or of New Mexico 
were adapted to any large extension of slavery. But just as 
the North had been led to believe that in the war the South 
had planned to extend slavery, so the South had come to feel 
that the North was trying to extend freedom into slave terri- 
tory. Secession was being openly talked, as it always had 
been whenever any section had become disgruntled. The 
difference was that passions were higher and the threat meant 
more now. It was clear that secession would mean war. 
“Peaceable secession !” thundered Webster, old and emaciated 
as he was. “ Sir, your eyes and mine are never destined to see 
that miracle. The dismemberment of this vast country with- 
out convulsion ! The breaking up of the fountains of the great 
deep without ruffling the surface ! ” 

If it was the representative of New England who provided 
the eloquence, somewhat ponderous as ever, it was the repre- 
sentative of the West who provided the constructive thought. 
Clay submitted certain measures as a new compromise, the 
most important being the admission of California as a free State, 
the organization of New Mexico and Utah as territories with- 


240 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


out mention of the question, and the passage of a more stringent 
fugitive-slave law. New England would not have followed the 
Westerner, but it did follow its own leader, now, however, no 
longer recogni2ed as such by many in view of his advocacy of 
the right of the Southerner to pursue his runaway slave into 
Northern territory. Whittier, an ardent antislavery man, ex- 
pressed the feeling of a multitude when he wrote : — 

So fallen ! so lost ! the light withdrawn 
Which once he wore ! 

The glory from his gray hairs gone 
Forevermore! ... 

Of all we loved and honored, naught 
Save power remains, — 

A fallen angel’s pride of thought, 

Still strong in chains. . . . 

Then, pay the reverence of old days 
To his dead fame; 

Walk backward, with averted ga2e, 

And hide the shame ! 

Clay, Calhoun, and Webster all died within two years, but, 
in spite of the Northern inability to swallow the Fugitive-Slave 
Law, the new compromise of 1850 was to hold the shaking struc- 
ture of the Union together for another decade, just long enough 
to ensure that even war could not destroy its permanence. The 
West had saved us with its new^ compromise. 

Meanwhile the country was extremely prosperous in all sec- 
tions, and speculation was rife. The injection of the enormous 
amounts of gold from California would in any case have brought 
about business activity, but in addition the Crimean War in 
Europe helped to provide an increased market for our farm 
products abroad, in which both South and West shared. As 
usual, also, our population increases^ so unlike the slow 
advances in the Old World, provided rapidly expanding markets 
for products, and rising prices for real estate. Chicago, for 
example, jumped from less than 30,000 inhabitants in 1850 to 
almost 110,000 in i860. Furiously as the future could be dis- 
counted, however, we over-discounted it, according to our san- 
guine custom, and with the close of the European war came the 



BROTHERS’ BLOOD 


241 


periGdic panic in 1857. The newly invented telegraph assisted 
the process by instantaneously spreading every piece of bad 
news everywhere at once. Though not so severe as that of 1837, 
the crisis was bad, and, as on previous occasions, it started a 
shift in population toward the West. In a long-settled and 
fully populated country, there is little for the people to do in a 
financial or agricultural crisis but remain and suffer where they 
and their ancestors have lived. In America, on the other hand, 
such a period has served to set a considerable part of the popu- 
lation on the march to unsettled regions. Such crises have been 
like pulsations of a vast heart, pumping inhabitants into our 
unpeopled spaces. 

In the course of our narrative, we have now noted many waves 
of immigration and migration and seen many frontiers, from 
those of Jamestown and Plymouth to those of Illinois and Cali- 
fornia. We have seen enough, perhaps, to hazard another 
generalization. In this matter of migration there were double 
and opposing forces at work, as in so many other spheres of our 
national life. We naturally like to stress the courage, hard 
work, and ability of our empire builders. It is well that we 
do. But, on the other hand, we cannot fully understand our 
own national mind and character if we do not ponder the other 
side of the coin. Almost every man who has migrated from 
Europe to America, from old settlement to newer, from East 
to West, has, at the same time that he has shown the qualities 
noted above, shown also a certain lack of courage when he 
decided that things had got too much for him “at home” and 
that he could no longer remain, that he could not fight through 
to success where he was. The Pilgrim and Puritan leaders 
who came to America, for example, were but a handful of those 
in England. Those who migrated preferred the physical dis- 
comforts, but political and religious simplifications, of the 
wilderness to their native land and its insistent problems. We 
think of them as strong men, but it may be questioned whether 
those who remained in England, faced the conditions, includ- 
ing possible martyrdom, and fought the Stuart tyranny to a 
successful finish, were not the stronger. Without indulging 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


242 

in any finespun discussion of that point, I think there can be 
no doubt that the frontier has always presented a simpler set 
of social and economic problems for the individual to solve 
than the more complex ones of the older countries or older 
American settlements. It was the man who was baffled in the 
face of such complexities, who could not adjust himself to them, 
who preferred to substitute for them the simpler conditions of a 
frontier society even at the expense of physical risk and dis- 
comfort, who became more or less the typical American from 
the days of John Winthrop on. This tendency thus present 
in millions of individuals and in migration after migration has 
possibly fostered in us a preference for slipping out from under 
a situation when it becomes too complex rather than thinking 
it and fighting it through. It would be a natural result. 

Two other psychological traits would naturally flow from 
such constant emigration away from places where conditions 
had become too much for the individual to contend with. The 
fact that the emigrant had been oppressed or made to accept 
an inferior position in the society from which he removed, 
whether as a religious protester or merely an economic failure, 
would tend to make him assert himself all the more when he 
reached a society in which the weights were taken off his free 
self-expression. The absurd egotism of the New Englanders, 
their belief in their own vast ©aperiority, their cruel persecu- 
tion of those who differed from them, may easily have sprung 
from such a psychological root, as have also the hoodlumism 
and utter lack of self-restraint shown by many later comers 
of another hatching. The Puritan who believed himself the 
elect of God and lawgiver for mankind, and the Irish police- 
man who swung his club and puffed out his chest, were both 
victims of the same psychological reaction on passing from con- 
ditions where the ego was squeezed to others in which it could 
blow up like a balloon. The oppressed or the failures who 
suddenly rise to power or success are much more apt to feel 
their own importance and inflict their own views on others 
than those who have always, sat in the seats of the mighty. 

Another psychological trait has also resulted from our con- 



BROTHERS' BLOOD 


243 


ditions. The fact that possibly the great majority of Ameri- 
cans have suffered from maladjustmentj lack of success, or 
even actual oppression and tyranny, whether in the lands of 
the Old World or the older settlements of our own, has caused 
them to develop a remarkable feeling of sympathy for the 
“under dog” of any sort, economic, political, social. Lying 
deep in our subconsciousness, this usually comes to the sur- 
face as emotion, and has appeared many times. In interna- 
tional relations it has colored our feelings with regard, among 
others, to Greeks, Hungarians, Irish, Cubans, and the natives 
of India, not always intelligently or wisely or with knowledge 
of the facts. It has colored our attitude toward criminals and 
politicians. It is a trait which domestic statesmen do, and 
foreign ones ought to, reckon with. It is an instinctive reac- 
tion, not a reasoned position, and derives straight from the 
life history of millions of individuals. At any moment it may 
appear against a foreign nation thought guilty of oppression, 
against politicians who attack a rival too ruthlessly, against 
the money power or others considered too privileged. On 
the other hand, because it belongs to our unconscious and is 
not the product of a trained intelligence or of morality, because 
it belongs to the realm of emotion and desire, it cannot 
be counted upon when in conflict with other emotions or de- 
sires, as has been exemplified m the case of our treatment of 
our own Indians. The plight of the red man, for exaniple, left 
the Abolitionists cold, though they were willing to pull down 
the whole fabric of America, if need be, to free the black man. 

The lack of employment following the panic of 1857 would 
have loosened a considerable part of the American population 
from its moorings and blown them westward in any case, but 
as it happened, with our proverbial luck, the year after the 
panic wrought its havoc, gold was discovered in Colorado, and 
a rush started comparable only to that for California. As com- 
pared with the diggings of the Pacific Coast, Colorado was easy 
to reach, and in the spring of 1859 the Missouri River from 
Independence to Council Bluffs was lined with the camps of 
the gold seekers. The general cry was “Pike’s Peak or Bust,” 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


244 

and. many attained to both destinations successively or simul- 
taneously. They crossed the plains in covered wagons, car- 
riages, on horseback, and even on foot, pushing their baggage 
ahead of them in light carts. In two years there were nearly 
thirty-five thousand persons in Colorado, and Denver was a 
prosperous city. The West had jumped across seven hundred 
miles of the American Desert and a new frontier had come into 
being to impress again on more Americans those character- 
istics stamped by all the big and little frontiers that had been 
coming into existence for two and a half centuries. 

As one studies our history from the standpoint of influences 
and not of politicians, one is impressed again and again not 
only by the double influences always at work, some of which 
we have spoken of, but by the fact that so often what has prom- 
ised to be poison has contained its own antidote. The acqui- 
sition of the Mexican West was threatening the existence of 
the Union. But out of that acquisition had come unexpectedly 
and at once several hundred million dollars in gold. That 
gold gave a great impetus, among other things, to building 
railways, and when civil war at last came, and the South 
counted on the West joining with It on account of their being 
bound together by the arms of “OF Man River” and an outlet 
on the Gulf, it was the newly completed railways between West 
and North that enabled those sections to hold together, instead 
of South and West. The river did indeed make a geographic 
and national unity of the great Valley. The West could not 
afford to see the lower half in foreign hands. She would insist 
on unity at any cost. Had there been no railroads to carry 
her produce to the East, she might have had to accept unwel- 
come secession to achieve unity. As it was, they had come 
just in time, owing to the gold, to enable her to survive, to join 
the North, and to achieve valley unity^ through war Instead of 
scission. In 1849, there were no railways of importance in the 
West. By i860, the northern West had nearly one third of 
the 30,000 miles in the whole country, and was not only covered 
with a network that made marketing of produce easy, but also 
well connected by trunk lines with the East. Had the West 



BROTHERS’ BLOOD 


HS 

joined the South, the break-up of the nation would have been 
inevitable. As it was, the railways made it possible for the 
West to join the North, which it preferred to do in opposition 
to slavery. Once joined to the North, however, coercion of 
the South became vital, owing to the essential unity of our great 
valley. The line of 36° 30' might divide two civilizations fairly, 
but “Or Man River” held them both and would not let them 

. ■ T 

The theory of that line, however, was fast breaking down. 
California had been admitted as a free State, and half of it 
lay to the south of the sacrosanct division between slave and 
free. New Mexico and Arizona, which would probably both 
be free, lay almost wholly to the south of the line. By the 
time of the Clay Compromise of 1850, all of the national do- 
main had been organized into States or Territories except the 
great Indian preserve which ran from Texas to Canada and 
from the Missouri border to the Rocky Mountains. Rail- 
road building had been so stimulated by California gold and 
generous land grants by the Federal government that the ques- 
tion of a transcontinental line was being actively discussed. 
If it did not cross the Indian preserve, sacredly guaranteed by 
the government, it would have to pass through Texas and be 
wholly a Southern line, which the North would by no means 
agree to. Already the Santa Fe Trail, the Oregon Trail, the 
settlers of Utah and Colorado, had made havoc of the theory 
of the sanctity of our treaties with the natives. They were 
doomed, and we need not enter upon the many details of the 
final act of the tragedy. From the days when an occasional 
savage had seen a sail from one point or another on the coast, 
and fought or welcomed the first settlers, the red men had been 
steadily pushed back until they were all herded together in the 
interior of the continent for the last stand. That was marked 
by broken treaties and open war, but was hopeless from the 
start. 

Caring nothing for the red man, but desirous of permitting a 
transcontinental railroad to be built from Chicago across the 
middle of the West, in 1854 Senator Douglas of Illinois tried 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


246 

to push a bill through Congress organizing the central part of 
the Indian country into a new Federal Territory under the 
name of Kansas, without excluding slavery from it, just as 
Congress had not insisted upon Utah or New Mexico being 
either slave or free. He soon changed his plan so as to pro- 
vide for two Territories, Kansas and Nebraska, thus making it 
possible to give one State each to the North and South should 
their inhabitants decide differently on the slave question. The 
two were to include the whole of the Indian country except 
that part which is now Oklahoma. Douglas and the North 
wanted a Northern transcontinental railway, and he was willing 
to pay the price to the South — a vast increase in territory in 
the North open to slavery. 

The bill passed on May 25, 1854. The Missouri Compro- 
mise had been definitely repealed. Five months later Abra- 
ham Lincoln was telling the nation in his speech at Peoria that, 
although he did not question the constitutional right of the 
Southerners to hold their slaves in the South, and knew nothing 
else for them to do under the existing conditions, yet “slavery 
is founded on the selfishness of man’s nature — opposition to 
it on his love of justice. These principles are in eternal antago- 
nism, and when brought into collision so fiercely as slavery ex- 
tension brings them, shocks and throes and convulsions must 
ceaselessly follow.” The pricewe paid for our projected trans- 
continental railway was broken faith with our savage wards 
and a nation drenched in blood. Douglas was a mere uncon- 
scious link in the endless chain of destiny. The witches’ caul- 
dron had long been brewing, and more ingredients than we can 
analyze had gone into the unholy broth which we were all. 
North and South, West and Far West, to be forced to drink. 

Douglas and his group may have been willing to pay the 
price to the South, but the North as a whole was not. The 
debates in Congress had been bitter and had disclosed the depth 
of feeling on both sides. The North had just been indulging 
in an orgy of fanaticism against foreigners and Catholics, but 
the threat to extend slavery threw all minor crusades into the 
discard. A new political party with an old name, Republican, 


BROTHERS’ BLOOD 


247 


was formed, and its first platform announced that it was “both 
the right and duty” of Congress to prohibit slavery and polyg- 
amy in the Territories, the latter prohibition, of course, being 
directed against the Mormons in Utah, who had horrified 
America and rather bored themselves with a plurality of legal, 
and legally supported, wives. Fr6mont, the inadequate candi- 
date of the new party, carried most of the North and West, but 
Buchanan, Democrat, carried the South and won the election. 

Meanwhile, a wholly new sort of frontier was being formed 
in Kansas. Backed by the Abolitionists and the Emigrant 
Aid, among other societies, settlers were sent into the new Terri- 
tory with Bibles and breechloaders, not to make homes, hunt 
for gold, or raise hogs, but to vote the Territory on the side of 
freedom and non-slavery. Slave owners did not care to settle 
without their slaves, and as the blacks were both valuable and 
volatile property, they did not care to risk them to any extent 
in the bullet-laden air of the new Territory. They did, how- 
ever, with their own rifles, ride over from Missouri on election 
days to stuff the ballot boxes. Frequent clashes occurred with 
these “border ruffians,” as they were called, and more attention 
was paid to bullets and ballots than to tilling the soil. Nor 
was all the blood for “ bleeding Kansas ” shed out there. Sena- 
tor Sumner of Massachusetts in the Senate at Washington 
proved himself an ardent partisan, but not a gentleman, in a 
violent speech on the “Crime against Kansas,” and was beaten 
into insensibility by Preston Brooks of South Carolina, who 
thus proved the same things of himself. The temperature of 
the nation had risen to the fever point. A year later, in March 
1857, the Supreme Court, in the Dred Scott case, declared that 
a negro could not be a citizen of the United States and that 
Congress, without due process of law, could not deprive a citi- 
zen of his property — ■ diat is, of slaves. Meanwhile the Senate 
had accepted a constitution for Kansas, rejected by a majority 
of its citizens, making slavery legal. The South was winning 
only to lose. 

In October 1859, the fanatic John Brown of Kansas, with a 
following of eighteen men, of whom five were negroes, and in 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


248 

pursuance of an utterly fantastic plan of making war on slavery, 
seized the Federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, and took 
some of the townspeople prisoners. The old man’s striking 
physical dignity and impressiveness, as well as his courage when 
captured and hung, won him admiration among those in the 
North whose hearts were stronger than their heads. The con- 
flict was coming to the country rapidly enough without such 
melodrama, and the South could not fail to be yet more embit- 
tered by the sight of arms being put into the hands of negroes. 
The possibility of a slave rising and of a massacre of the whites, 
such as had occurred in Hayti, was ever in the minds of the slave 
owners, responsible for the lives of their women and children 
on widely separated plantations, and Brown’s armed advance 
into the South with blacks in his party was as cruelly insensate 
as it was childish. Perhaps no man in American history less 
deserves the pedestal of heroism on which he has been raised, 
but the North at once enshrined him as a saint, and more than 
ever convinced the South that there could be no peaceful solu- 
tion of the conflict between the two civilizations unless it might 
be found in an unopposed secession. 

Meanwhile, in 1858, Lincoln had opposed Douglas in the race 
for the Senatorship from Illinois. On the night of his nomina- 
tion, in words now familiar to every American, he had placed 
the issue squarely before the nat^n. “A house divided against 
itself cannot stand,” Lincoln paraphrased from Saint Mark, 
and then continued : “I believe this government cannot endure 
permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the 
Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — 
but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all 
one thing, or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery 
will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public 
mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate 
extinction; or its advocates will push it forward till it shall 
become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new. North 
as well as South.” Lincoln, speaking in the name of his party, 
claimed that slavery was a moral wrong, though he had no 
intention of interfering with it in the South, trusting to its 


BROTHERS’ BLOOD 


249 

gradual disappearance there. Douglas claimed that the mo- 
rality of the question was no one’s business, and that each State 
should determine its status for itself. He won the election. 

In fact, there was little likelihood of any further extension 
of slavery in American territory, owing to soil and climate. 
Both sides, however, were losing their heads. The North saw 
the South trying to reintroduce the slave trade and extend con- 
quest to the southward in the West Indies, while insisting on 
bringing its black property into the North or making the North- 
erners capture its slaves for it if they escaped thither. The 
South saw its institution, and more than half of its total prop- 
erty, being threatened. It declared that it would not submit 
if the Republican Party won the presidential election of i860, 
as, in spite of Lincoln’s defeat, it had won the Congressional 
elections of 1858. 

The Republicans did win, with Abraham Lincoln as candi- 
date for President. The Democratic Party, which has never 
been able to carry the country except by combining South and 
West, had been split into two by the slavery problem, and 
neither wing had a chance against the new Republicans, who 
carried every free State, though polling scarcely a vote in the 
South. The curtain had now been rung up for the central act 
of the great tragedy. The sharp geographic delimitation of 
the party votes showed the completeness with which the North- 
ern and Southern sectionalism had finally worked itself out. 
It was known with practical certainty that the election of Lin- 
coln meant the secession of South Carolina, probably to be 
followed by at least a number of other Southern States. 

What was the real cause, or causes, of the angry, seething 
emotions which had steadily mounted throughout the nation 
as the sectionalism became more and more pronounced ? The 
older historians would* have replied at once, “Slavery.” A 
wiser and a broader view is now coming to be accepted, although 
our latest historian, with more of the closet scholar than the 
statesman on this particular point, goes back to the older view 
because he finds little but slavery mentioned in the “docu- 
ments” of the crisis. We surely know, however, that avowed 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


250 

reasons or political battle cries usually simplify, even if they 
do not conceal, the real complex of influences in a given struggle. 
There is, of course, no doubt that slavery was in everyone’s 
mind, and that it made the best concentration point for all 
the vague and emotional substratum of the sectionalism which 
had now become deadly. The mere abstract morality of slav- 
ery, however, would not alone have been adequate to plunge 
the nation into war. 

Perhaps, as we have suggested before, our present situation 
in regard to the Prohibition Amendment will help our own 
generation to understand, in much milder form, the complex 
that lay behind disunion in i860. We are not split in America 
to-day solely on the morality of taking a drink which contains 
alcohol. Mixed with that are questions of social welfare, of 
economics, of entrenched interests, of class distinction in legis- 
lation, of urban against rural communities, of personal liberty, 
of the real function of a Federal constitution, of the right of one 
section of the people to coerce another at least almost equally 
large, of the conflict of different outlooks on life, of different 
ways of life. To a considerable extent the opposing parties 
to-day are inextricably mixed throughout the land, drinking 
as a social custom and a habit not being delimited by soil or 
climate. If it were, the conflict would be much more sharply 
defined by having geographic boundaries. 

From the beginning of settlement in America, soil and climate 
had fostered a fairly sharp sectionalism of social and economic 
life. 

It was not simply that slavery, which had been universal, 
had proved economically unprofitable among the Puritans and 
to a considerable extent in the Middle Colonies, and thus be- 
came chiefly confined to the South. It was that, because of 
differences in soil and climate, a wholly different sort of life 
developed in the agrarian South of large plantations from that 
which developed in the industrial North. The South was not 
all made up of the Southern gentlemen of legend and of fact 
any more than the North was ail made up of Concord sages. 
There were many sorts of people in both sections, but in the 



BROTHERS’ BLOOD 


251 


South they had all pretty much developed 'a love for a more or 
less easy-going country life with habits and values of its own, 
and disliked, even when they did not despise, the hustling, 
shrewd, business type of men in the North. There, on the 
other hand, the people looked down on the Southern type, 
which they could not and did not try to understand. 

The slave was the working capital of the Southerner, it is 
true, just as cash and credit were the working capital of the 
Northerner, and the attack of the Abolitionists on the morality 
of holding slaves as'property aroused as much anger in the 
South as a similar widespread propaganda in the South for the 
confiscation of Northern bank accounts would have raised in 
the North. But beyond that the Southerner grew increasingly 
resentful at having his whole way of life attacked by another 
section, just as many of us to-day are deeply resentful at being 
coerced in what we shall drink and how we shall entertain, 
by a portion of the nation which, whether rightfully or not, 
we consider bigoted and narrow-minded, and in many cases 
motivated by false ideals and mercenary desires. We object 
to being told that we cannot judge the morality of our own 
acts and that we must guide our conduct by the standards of 
fanatics enacted into Federal laws. The South had always 
stood for a strict construction of the Constitution, and in its 
interpretation of that instrument it had quite as good an argu- 
ment as the North, if not better. To avoid controversy and 
possible failure to ratify, the Fathers who drafted it had pur- 
posely left it ambiguous. According to the Southerners’ inter- 
pretation of it, not only had their property in slaves been guar- 
anteed, but the Constitution was now being used to threaten 
their whole way of life, whereas for the most part, for a half 
century and more, Supreme Court decisions had been modify- 
ing it so as steadily to strengthen the Northerners in posses- 
sion of their particular form of property and capitalism. 

By 1859, owing to the admission of new States, there had 
come to be eighteen free against only fifteen slave States, so 
that the South had become a minority party in both houses 
of Congress. It was easy for the Abolitionists to shout for 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA ’ 



, tii^— m 11 i iy i jpi^ ipppiwillW^ 


252^ 

immediate emancipation of all slaves, but it was not so easy 
to say how it could be done, any more than it is easy to-day to 
clean off the stark and damnable injustices of our present in- 
dustrial regime. Even Lincoln said that he did not blame the 
Southerners “for not doing what I should not know how to do 
myself. If ail earthly power were given me, I should not know 
what to do as to the existing institution.” At the Peace Con- 
ference of Versailles, America stood firmly for the self-deter- 
mination of racial and cultural groups, even when it involved 
absurd national boundaries. The South was a geographic, 
economic, and social unity. If ever there was a case for self- 
determination, it might seem as though that section had had a 
perfect one. After a generation and more of constant attack 
and of decreasing spiritual unity in the nation, the election of 
i860 left the South in the absolute political power of a party 
which was solely Northern. It is not difficult to see why a 
large part of the Southern people could see nothing left but 
peaceable secession. 

On the other hand, influences had also been at work in the 
North. The Abolitionists had long been preaching their 
moral crusade against slavery with more bitterness than that 
of the Anti-Saloon League against alcohol in our time. They 
had denounced the union with the South as a league with Hell, 
and worked to destroy the Union. Men of another type, like 
James Russell Lowell, who had believed that the Mexican War 
was merely a plot of the South to extend slave territory, had 
increased the feeling against that section by talk and writing. 
He had ended the first of his enormously popular Biglow Papers 
with 

Ef I ’d way I hed ruther 
We should go to work an’,part, 

They take one way, we take t’ other, 

Guess it would n’t break my heart; 

Man hed ough’ to put asunder 
Them thet God has noways jined; 

An’ I should n’t gretly wonder 
Ef there ’s thousands 0’ my mind. 


BROTHERS’ BLOOD 


253 


At any rate, Massachusetts agitators and men of letters had 
done their best to see that there should be thousands, and tens 
of thousands, of their mind. Massachusetts has occupied a 
singular position in our national history. Settled some years 
after Virginia had shown that colonizing was practicable, and 
always the heart of New England, Massachusetts contributed 
some of the best and some of the worst streams of influence to 
our national development and character. Unfortunately one 
of the latter was fanaticism and intolerance, and it was 
in Massachusetts that Abolitionism had its strongest hold. 
The Puritan spirit, noble as it was in many aspects, became an 
uncompromising, fanatical, and dogmatic one. The men of 
that State have never taken much trouble to understand the 
point of view of other sections of the country, even when they 
have known it at all, and have seldom questioned their own. 
It is significant that Massachusetts has given but two Presi- 
dents to the United States, both over a century ago, and that 
both of them failed of reelection, despite their sterling character. 
That this State, and all New England, would take an unyielding 
attitude on the slavery question, in so far as it appealed to her 
moral and fanatical inhabitants, was a foregone conclusion, 
even although they had no solution to offer. Throughout the 
whole North and West, moreover, the lover of liberty and the 
underdog complex could be easily played upon, as it was by 
Uncle Tom’s Cabin. 

But more than these factors were needed also. If the South- 
erner had not liked the sneers of the Noriherner, neither did 
the small Northern farmer or shopkeeper, clerk or laborer, like 
the sneers of the Southerner against those who developed the 
traits of an industrial civilization. The old antagonism of the 
townsman and the countryman is as old as towns themselves. 
It runs through all lit&rature and history. It reappears in 
highly intensified form between industrial and agrarian types 
of culture, just as it has cropped out again and again between 
East and West, and is involved to-day between Occident and 
Orient. Moreover, Republican orators played on the racial 
and economic fears of the Northern laborers and mechanics, 


254 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


asking how they could expect two dollars a day when South- 
erners spent but ten cents a day on their slaves. Of course, 
this was sheer bunkum. One of the chief economic disad- 
Ijvantages of slavery was its costliness and waste. The orators 
took no account of the fifteen hundred to twenty-five hundred 
dollars that a slave cost to buy, of the possibility of his death, 
of the need of keeping him in sickness, off seasons, dull years, 
of the need of feeding, clothing, physicking him, or of his in- 
efficiency. But the fear served. The Northerner had no love 
for the negro, who in many ways was treated worse in the North 
than in the South, even that trouble maker for the South, the 
free negro, having a better chance to rise above the laborer 
class in, say, Louisiana than in New York or Connecticut. But 
the Northern laborer came to fear slave competition. 

The fact was that within our political and geographic unity 
we had been developing two contrasted and antagonistic types 
of civilization, while at the same time many and powerful 
factors were dictating that there must be uniformity of condi- 
tions and outlook. The railroads, telegraph, increasing mo- 
bility of population, easy transportation, interchange of goods 
and ideas — these and many other factors were binding the 
lives of individuals closer together. What each section did and 
thought was of necessity more and more affecting the others. 
Just as we have seen that even on the individualistic frontier 
a uniformity of life, desires, and aspirations came to be uncon- 
sciously enforced because it spelled greater prosperity for all, 
so this same more or less unconscious forcing of uniformity 
came to be felt in national life. In two respects the North 
was in the line in which the world was moving, away from 
human “slavery,” but toward the exploitation of men and 
women in highly industrialized communities. 

The conflict between North and South, like the American 
Revolution, had to be rationalized. Just as we can see now 
that it was not any single item, like taxation without repre- 
sentation, which wrought the Revolution out of a situation 
that evolved from wholly differing attitudes toward life on the 
two sides of the water, so it was not simply the moral question 


BROTHERS’ BLOOD 


255 


of slavery that had been carrying North and South toward the 
brink of disaster for fifty years. But the whole situation had 
to be simplified and rationalized, as we have said, and it was 
characteristic of the North, and especially of New England as# 
the centre of the rationalizing process, that the whole stress' 
should be laid on a single issue which could be moralized. The 
average Northern workman cared a good deal more about the 
negro as a competitor than he did about him as a being in God’s 
image who was entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of hap- 
piness. There was precious little that a negro could do in the 
way of pursuing happiness in most Northern communities, as 
Connecticut could bear witness. 

The Republican Convention which met at Chicago in May 
i860, and nominated Lincoln, had drafted a platform which 
announced that there should be no extension of slavery al- 
lowed into new territory, but neither should there be any 
interference with it in the slave States. But the Convention 
was not only being held in the West. It was full of Westerners 
who had ideas of their own. Illinois and some other Western 
communities were not so keen on the slavery question as were 
certain of the Easterners. If a good many people out there 
did not see why men, even if black, should be made slaves to 
Southern capitalists, neither did they see why they themselves 
should be made slaves to Eastern capitalists who made freight 
and interest rates, and controlled railways and banks. The 
small West of 1819 had learned hatred of financiers ; the larger 
West of 1837 had had the lesson rubbed in; the West of i860 
had just passed through the panic of 1857. The plain people 
had risen against the Hamiltonian capitalists when they elected 
Thomas Jefferson in 1800; they had frightened them out of 
their lives when they had elected General Jackson in 1828 
and destroyed the United Sta.tes Bank as a result; and they 
had no intention now, with the panic only three years past and 
the mortgages still cawing on their roofs, of nominating 
Governor Seward of New York and the capitalistic East as 
President. There might be slaves in the South, but were not 
the capitalists doing their best to make slaves of white men ? 


256 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


Had they not driven good Americans out of our merchant 
marine ? Had they not to a great extent driven them out of 
our factories ? Were they not asking Western farmers to pay 
high tolls and impossible debts ? Were they not beating down 
Americans with the club of cheap foreign labor and “black 
lists”? They would take a foreigner without any recom- 
mendation, but not an American unless his last employer 
allowed it. Were they not even going so far, back East, as 
to give a discharged or voluntarily quitting workman a card, 
when they saw fit, on which was written that he had “liberty to 
work elsewhere”? What was America coming to when the 
“liberty to work” was dependent on the nod of a factory 
manager? What of the American dream? 

Successive migrations, much hard work, no money, and a 
general social level which raised few men of culture above the 
mass of plain men and women were not doing the West any 
good intellectually, to put it mildly. It was not without 
reason that even the thinking required to be a good Presby- 
terian had for the most part long been abandoned for the less 
arduous reactions to emotion of the Baptist and Methodist. 
But the West feared, and not without cause, the smooth, 
polished, and mercenary East, as it envisaged it. So the West 
crashed the gates of the Convention and nominated its own 
son, Abraham Lincoln, for President, to the bewilderment 
and horror of Boston, New York, and all points East, which 
saw in the possible President only a gaunt, coarse, uneducated 
backwoodsman with no qualifications whatever for high office. 
The Eastern delegates had gone to Chicago as a matter of 
form to go through the routine of nominating Seward. They 
went home with Lincoln. He was as yet a Lincoln compara- 
tively unknown and not yet formed by four years of the heaviest 
responsibilities and decisions that have ever fallen to the lot 
of any of our Chief Executives. 

Some weeks after the election, the legislature of South 
Carolina, on December 20, i860, passed the anticipated formal 
resolution of secession, unanimously declaring that the union 
with the United States of America was dissolved. Georgia, 


BROTHERS’ BLOOD 


257 


Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas followed 
in quick succession, and at Montgomery, Alabama, on Feb- 
ruary 9, 1861, Jefferson Davis was chosen President of the 
newly formed Confederate States of America in the con- 
vention being held there, scarcely three weeks before Lincoln 
was inaugurated at Washington. Virginia joined the Con- 
federacy in April, as did Arkansas, Tennessee, and North 
Carolina in May. The roll of secession was then complete. 

Secession, as we have pointed out, had been threatened 
from one section or another in every decade since the Con- 
stitution had been adopted in 1787, just as husband and wife 
might quarrel and frequently tell one another they cannot 
stand marriage any longer. Life, however, springs from or- 
ganic growth and not from documents and contracts. Many 
a husband and wife, thinking in terms of a legally breakable 
contractual relation, have awakened to the fact that their 
union has been made real and unbreakable by a thousand 
subtle bonds and ties which had been weaving their chain 
unnoticed. So with secession. As a matter of constitutional 
interpretation it might or might not be legal, but when it was 
being faced as an immediate possibility and reality, many 
awoke to the fact that, whatever quarrels there might be, a 
thousand subtle ties had made the Sovereign States an indis- 
soluble nation. 

There was no longer any question of a written Constitution. 
We had been quibbling over the interpretation of that for 
nearly three generations. There was something much more 
binding — a deep and passionate sentiment of devotion to the 
Union. Northern Abolitionists might shout until they died 
that slavery was so foul a stain as to call for the break-up of the 
nation. Second-rate poets like Lowell might prattle about 
what God had not joined together. Business men might cast 
up figures to discover whether a national market was worth 
a war. But when, on April 12, the South Carolinians fired 
on Fort Sumter and the following day the Stars and Stripes 
fluttered down from the masthead in surrender, all such 
sophistries were swept away in one vast wave of emotion. 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


258 

Millions of plain men and women, neither poets nor fanatics 
nor capitalists, men and women of factory and shop and farm, 
as well as those of birth and breeding and luxurious homes, 
suddenly realized that deep in their hearts an abstraction and a 
symbol — Union and the flag — possessed a moving power 
of which they had not dreamed. The rules of government 
had been ambiguously laid down in a written document, but 
a nation had been formed in the silent hearts of its citizens. 

Nor was Union sentiment confined to the North and West. 
The situation was confused on both sides of the old Mason 
and Dixon’s line. There were plenty of hot-heads in the 
South, as there were in the North, who welcomed secession 
for its own sake; but many there also felt as did Robert E. Lee 
when he wrote his son, "I can contemplate no greater calamity 
for the country than a dissolution of the Union,” and yet 
felt that, the situation having reached the point it had, there 
was nothing for them to do but sorrowfully to take the side 
of friends and relatives, of all they had known and all they had 
held dear. Many did so believing that the only way out 
was to leave the shelter of that Union from which they were 
being driven by the blind bigotry of a North which, in its 
industrial development, had grown away from the old “live 
and let live” of the Constitution; which now threatened the 
property of the South, denounced its standards of morality, and 
was seemingly insanely anxious to create a uniformity of thought 
and life throughout the whole length and breadth of our great 
land. The South, too, had loved the Stars and Stripes. It had 
taken more than its full part in the first founding of the nation. 
The earliest successful settlement had been on its shores, not on 
those of New England. The man on whom the success of the 
Revolution had finally depended had been a Southern slave 
owner, and had been the first Presicfent. In the drafting of 
the Constitution and the statesmanship of the early Republic, 
no names had shone brighter than Jefferson, Madison, and 
Marshall, all Southerners and slave owners. The South felt 
that it had not changed, but that the North had, and that the 
North was now trying to use its new power of numbers and 


BROTHERS’ BLOOD 


259 


capital and industrialism to coerce the South into serving as 
its vassal in modes of thought and life. The parting of the 
ways had been reached. 

There were no large cities in the South, centres of intellectual 
ferment and influence. In spite of wealth in land and slaves, 
there had for long been little free capital. There were no 
colleges to compare in numbers and opportunities with those 
in the North. Scattered throughout the Southern States 
were charming homes, where social intercourse was a fine art 
and where men and women had grace and learning. But little 
by little the section had been drifting backward in a rapidly 
moving world. It is too early yet to measure the forces of the 
nineteenth century in terms of spiritual value, but democracy 
and the Industrial Revolution were creating a new world, 
in which we have not even yet found our way, but in which 
slavery had become an anachronism. No practical way of 
doing without slaves in the South had been suggested; and 
confronted with the ruin of its peculiar type of civilization, or 
with the need for defending it morally and intellectually, the 
South had for some decades been forced to spend its energies 
on such defense, and had suffered in consequence. It had 
got out of touch with the thought of the growing world. It 
did not realize the strength of the forces dooming slavery 
everywhere, nor of those building the sense of nationality. 
It claimed the right not to change, the right to continue to 
live its own life in its own way. But that was precisely what 
the magnitude of the blind forces of our modern world do not 
permit. Like the rest of us, individuals, nations, civilizations, 
the South was caught in the grip of forces which neither it nor 
we can understand or control. 

Not realizing the force of nationalism, the South hoped for 
a peaceable secession. Thinking in terms of boats and “01’ 
Man River,” she thought the West would join her because of 
the outlet to the Gulf, not understanding the part that the 
new railways would play. Not realizing, on the one hand, the 
temporarily overstocked condition of the cotton market in 
Europe, or, on the other, the strength of the sentiment for 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


260 

democracy and freedom among the cotton-mill operatives of 
England, she thought that Cotton was King, and that, if it 
came to war, England and the rest of Europe would have to 
acknowledge her independence and come to her aid. So, 
with no industrial organization, with negligible financial 
resources in cash and credit and banking institutions, her five 
or six million whites found themselves at last facing in war 
nearly twenty million in the North and West. The necessity 
for looking backward and spending their whole energy in 
defense of the anachronism of slavery had prevented her 
statesmen from attaining the stature of those of her great 
period, — who had eagerly looked forward, — and from study- 
ing with an open and unbiased mind the forces which were 
becoming dominant. Yet she felt that she had law and right 
upon her side. National unity was a sentiment, not a con- 
stitutional obligation, and surely, she argued, six million people 
with a civilization and ideals of their own, inhabiting a clearly 
delimited territory, should not be coerced and held in per- 
manent subjection by mere weight of numbers among their 
foes. And so they fired on Fort Sumter, and the Stars and 
Stripes fluttered down, like a wounded bird. 

That was in April 1861. It is not part of the plan of this 
book to retell in detail the oft-told story of the four years of 
devastating and bloody war ,^hat followed until on another 
April day, in 1865, General Robert E. Lee, ablest general of the 
war and noblest of Southern gentlemen, offered the surrender 
of his sword and the Southern cause to General Ulysses S. 
Grant, who, when a cheer began from the Union lines, ordered 
it stopped with the words, “The war is over; the rebels are 
our countrymen again.” That the Southerners’ hope of inde- 
pendence and the right to their own way of life had not been 
fantastic is shown by the fact that, ^outnumbered more than 
three to one and incomparably more heavily outweighed in 
resources, they defended their flag, the Stars and Bars, for 
four years of intense suffering and heroic effort. Now that 
the passions of that time have receded into the pages of history 
from the hot hearts of those who suffered them, we can realize 


BROTHERS’ BLOOD 


261 

that the courage and endurance of Southern men and wornen, 
and the stainless purity and gentleness of the soldier who led 
their hosts to war, are among the imperishable possessions 
of our common national past. 

It is probable that during the war 620,000 Americans were 
killed or died from wounds and disease in the military service, 
360,000 Northerners and 260,000 Southerners, out of some 
three million who saw service on both sides. Until the recent 
World War it was the greatest and most bloody struggle which 
humanity had known. The first battle. Bull Run, was a dis- 
graceful rout, but before long these men and boys on both 
sides, who had known nothing of war and never dreamed of 
going to war, learned to stand fire as well as any veterans of 
Europe, and perhaps better, for in many of the battles the 
casualties were higher in proportion to the numbers engaged 
than in any of the battles of the Napoleonic Wars. It was 
a civilian’s war in a nation which had scarcely known war for 
nearly a century. The recruiting systems were bad; the use 
of bounties, the evasion of service by many rich men in the 
North who paid the poor to take their places, and what came 
to be known as “bounty jumping,” were all scandalous. 

But in an age which delights to look at the worst instead 
of the best in human nature whenever it has the choice, it is 
all too easy to overstress the sordid side. The fact remains 
that a great, self-governing democracy maintained the war 
for over four years by its own decree and fought it to a finish 
with a dogged courage and a casualty list such as the world had 
not before seen. We shall discuss the economic aspects of 
these years better in the next chapter, but may note here that 
the war vastly increased the prosperity of the North and 
ruined the South. If the North had lost, nothing would 
have happened except that it would have failed to keep the 
Union together by force. The South, on the other hand, was 
fighting for its very existence, and when it lost, it was prostrate. 
Both sides gave much, but in the South the highest social 
class gave all, as that in the North did not. 

At the start, neither side had any professional army which 


26a 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 

amounted to anything. The only training school for officers, 
West Point, had been in the North, as was also that for naval 
officers, at Annapolis; but for the most part the graduates 
followed their States when the war broke out, the South 
being fortunate in gaining not only the best officer in the 
army when Lee finally went with Virginia, but such men 
as Beauregard, Stuart, and the two Johnstons as well. The 
less fortunate North had to experiment with one general after 
another until the figure of Grant gradually overshadowed all 
others. 

Even after armed conflict had begun, both sides, as always 
happens, expected only a short war. Recruits were enlisted in 
the North for ninety days. However, the disastrous battle 
of Bull Run, July 21, 1861, completely altered opinion as to 
the length and magnitude of the struggle. The next lot of 
volunteers were enlisted for three years. Except for the 
blockade of Southern ports, nothing further of military impor- 
tance occurred for nearly eight months, as the armies faced 
each other and were undergoing organization, until, in the 
beginning of 1862, Grant secured the unconditional surrender 
of Fort Donelson on the Cumberland and practically secured 
possession of Tennessee. In April, Commodore Farragut 
successfully passed New Orleans and proceeded up the Mis- 
sissippi, which, however, could not be cleared and held until, 
a year later, Grant succeeded in capturing Vicksburg. 

Unlike Lee, who came of a distinguished Virginia 'family. 
Grant came of completely undistinguished small people in 
a small Middle-Western town. His real name was Hiram 
Ulysses and not Ulysses Simpson, the change being due to a 
mistake in his enrollment at West Point. As a young officer 
in the Mexican War he had served well, but had made an 
utter failure of everything he had atfempted after his resigna- 
tion from the army in 1853. He was a hard drinker, and 
when he first volunteered for the Civil War no attention was 
paid to him. In many ways, as in the entire lack of all interests 
of a cultural sort and the curious limitations of his mind in 
other respects, he was a typical product of the small-town life 


BROTHERS’ BLOOD 263 

of his day, especially in the West. But he had the particular 
type of military genius that was called for. 

In the East, although McClellan had 100,000 men in the 
Army of the Potomac, he seemed to be making no progress. 
Lee had crossed into Maryland and been defeated at Antietam, 
in September 1862, but the next year had been able to get into 
Pennsylvania, to be defeated at Gettysburg on the very days 
that Grant was besieging Vicksburg. Although Lee had been 
forced back, there was nothing very promising in McClellan’s or 
Meade’s merely preventing Southern inroads on Northern terri- 
tory. In March 1864, Grant was made a Lieutenant General 
and General in Chief of the Armies of the United States. 

In the West, the Confederacy had been cut in half by the 
clearing of the Mississippi, and “Ol’ Man River” was again 
rolling along for the Union his whole length. Grant came East 
and took charge of operations against Lee and Richmond. 
General Sherman undertook the task of cutting the Confederacy 
in two in another direction, and, starting South from Chatta- 
nooga in July, he marched through the South, passing through 
Atlanta, and, after being lost to the news for a month, at 
last emerged at Savannah in December 1864. In application 
of his famous phrase, “War is Hell,” he had deliberately 
caused the widest destruction possible, though the persons of 
civilian Southerners had been respected. 

There is no need to recite the further military manceuvres 
which fed up to the final scene of Southern surrender at Appo- 
mattox. Grant, who understood the pride of the Southern 
officer and the stark need of the private, stated simply that 
officers should retain their side arms, and that all men who 
claimed a horse or mule should take it home to work their 
farms. One’s mind reaches forward to a meeting on the 
Franco-German frontiei* in 1918, in a freight car filled with 
distinguished officers with stars and orders on their breasts. . . . 
The small-town, undistinguished Hiram Grant, uncultured 
and untraveled, looms above them all as a chivalrous gentleman 
and a magnanimous conqueror, as in few words in that little 
farmhouse in 1865, in shabby fatigue uniform, he adds healing 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


264 

to the peace. His enemy, General Lee, recognizes a fellow 
gentleman in the stocky, stubby-bearded, carelessly dressed 
man whose terms he has just had to sign. "This will do much 
to conciliate our people,” he says, and it is all over. 

As a nation we have been singularly fortunate in many ways 
and on many occasions. In one respect this luck or fortune, or 
what you will, has been very good to us in a unique form. - 
The only two great military struggles in which we have been 
intensively engaged — the War of the Revolution and the 
Civil War — have left us legacies such as war rarely, if ever, has 
left to others, legacies of men so surpassingly great in character 
as to have become, and deservedly so, folk heroes for a people 
whose history has as yet been so brief. In the Revolution, 
the South had given us George Washington, and in the Civil 
War, the West gave us Abraham Lincoln. Usually war gives 
national history the military hero. Occasionally the great 
statesman emerges to take a permanent place in the memory 
of his people. America’s fortune has been to receive from our 
struggles (for the World War for us was a holiday affair com- 
pared with the other two) two men whom we think of neither 
as soldiers nor as statesmen, but as men of such sublime char- 
acter as to have taken their places among the highest of man- 
kind of all times and races, and to have become enshrined in 
the hearts and hopes of all humanity. 

Lincoln, the man whom Fate had held in store to save the 
Union, came straight from the common people and the democ- 
racy of the West. There is no need to retell the thousand- 
time- told tale of his ancestry, his hard upbringing in a log 
cabin in direst poverty, his self-education, his early career as 
a lawyer and politician, until the year when he entered the 
White House. Untrained, untried, uncouth, uncultured as 
the East understood culture, unwanted, the homely “rail- 
splitter” and backwoodsman undertook in humbleness of 
mind the task not only of holding the nation together, but of 
so acting that the bonds of brotherly union should be those 
of sympathy and understanding and trust, and not of force, 
even though war might have to intervene for a time. 


BROTHERS’ BLOOD 26 5 

It had been the plain people who had given him power, and 
the plain people trusted him. Not so the “rich and wise” 
of the old Federalist formula. Charles Francis Adams, for 
example, who rendered inestimable service during the war as 
Mihister to England, and who, in the opinion of his son Henry, 
had the most perfectly balanced mind of any of that great 
clan of Adamses, could read the minds of a Lord John Russell 
or a Palmerston, but failed completely to understand or appre- 
ciate Lincoln. Like most of the others of the rich and wise, 
he trusted Seward instead, because Seward was the type of 
man and mind they were used to, and they could not suspect 
that a man who c“ame from backwoods poverty and the rough 
frontier had more wisdom than them all. 

In the weeks before and after inauguration Lincoln displayed 
that infinite patience of which he was to have such sore need 
in the years to come. Seward, whom Lincoln had made 
Secretary of State and who considered that, in spite of a whim 
of fortune and democracy, he himself could be the actual 
President, as in his opinion he should have been the titular 
one, handed the President a memorandum on April i, 1861, 
in which he suggested his own method of bringing disunion 
to an end. One shudders as one reads it to think what the 
history of our land might have been had the East won in the 
Chicago Convention and had Seward been elected in Lincoln’s 
place. His idea was that, as the President had not yet evolved 
a policy for reuniting the nation, that end could be accom- 
plished by forcing an immediate declaration of war against 
Spain and France, possibly also against England and Russia, 
and making trouble in Canada, Mexico, and South America! 
In case the President did not consider himself capable of ful- 
filling the duties of his office, Seward offered to undertake them 
himself. Lincoln replied with great kindness that whatever 
had to be done he must himself do. The measure of the man 
began to show. 

In spite of his belief in its moral iniquity, slavery was pro- 
tected by the Constitution, was legal in many of the States, 
and Lincoln considered, always, that he was President of the 


266 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


whole United States in spite of the temporary secession of 
some of them. Moving slowly, by which caution he saved 
several of the wavering border States to the Union and pre- 
vented further secession, he announced that there should be 
no aggressive move made by the Federal government, that 
civil war was in the hands of the South, not his, but that seces- 
sion was unconstitutional and that the laws of the Union 
must be enforced by him in all its parts. 

When the firing on Fort Sumter brought war on the nation, 
he kept to the idea that the only object of the war was to save 
the Union, not to settle the slavery question by force instead 
of law. “My paramount object in this struggle,” he wrote 
in August 1862, “is to save the Union, and is not either to 
save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without 
freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by 
freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could do it by 
freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that. 
What I do about slavery and the colored race, I do because 
I believe it helps to save this Union; and what I forbear, I 
forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the 
Union. ... I have here stated my purpose according to 
my view of official duty, and I intend no modification of my 
oft-expressed personal wish that all men, everywhere, could 
be free.” Every act of Lincoln was dictated by his belief in 
Union, and his hope and duty of restoring not merely a Union 
of force but a Union of hearts. When he finally came to 
the conclusion that he must emancipate the slaves, it was 
because he felt, as he said, that “slavery must die that the 
Union might live,” and when he issued the Proclamation 
some months later, after the success at Antietam, America 
realhed only slowly that the cause of human freedom was 
thenceforward bound up by destin/ with the cause of the 
Union. 

Above all the din and stench of human misery and blundering 
and meanness, the profiteering and self-seeking and angry 
passion and other ills that war ever breeds, two speeches by 
Lincoln, imperishable possessions for us when we despair of 


BROTHERS’ BLOOD 


267 


democracy, show the manner of man who could arise from the 
depth and very heart of democracy when its trial was sorest. 
In the next chapter we shall have to see democracy at its lowest 
and vilest, and it is well that we should hearten ourselves with 
a glimpse of it at its noblest, and listen to how the greatest 
soul that democracy has yet evolved would have us wage 
war and make peace. 

On November 19, 1863, part of the battlefield of Gettysburg 
was to be dedicated as a national cemetery. A concourse of 
people gathered, and for two hours listened to the most polished 
orator of the time, Edward Everett, who stood for the man of 
culture as opposed to the man of the people, the ungainly 
President who was there merely because he was President. 
No one now ever reads what the polished orator spoke as, 
without any depth of feeling for the dead or living, but with 
the thought of himself and the impression he was making, 
he discoursed on the sin of rebellion. And then Lincoln rose, 
and quietly spoke, “gracefully for him,” as John Hay noted — ■ 
spoke in words that, now cut in marble in our noblest tomb, 
may yet outlive the stone on which they are inscribed. 

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth 
on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and 
dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. 
Now we are engaged in a great-^ivil war, testing whether that 
nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long 
endure! We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We 
have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting 
place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might 
live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do 
this. But in a larger sense we cannot dedicate, we cannot 
consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, 
living and dead, who Stru^led here, have consecrated it, 
far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will 
little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can 
never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather 
to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who 
fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather 


268 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before 
us, that from these honored dead we take increased devotion 
to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of 
devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall 
not have died in vain ; that this nation, under God, shall have 
a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, 
by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” 

Edward Everett listened condescendingly to the uneducated 
man who knew only Blackstone, Shakespeare, and the Bible. 
The trains were waiting. The crowd dispersed. Boston 
aristocracy and Western democracy had had their say. The 
aristocrat had taken two hours, the democrat two minutes; 
and one had become immortal. 

A year went by, and for the first time in history a great 
democracy was called upon to elect a chief magistrate in the 
midst of a life-and-death struggle. Lincoln was again elected. 
The following March, when he delivered his second inaugural, 
the surrender at Appomattox was scarcely a month away, 
though that could not be certain. In his address, Lincoln 
held out no false hopes, but always thinking of the nation, 
and the peace that was to be, he ended his brief address with 
the words: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, 
with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let 
us strive on to finish the work vfe are in ; to bind up the nation’s 
wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and 
for his widow and his orphan — to do all which may kchieve 
and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with 
all nations.” 

Early in April the President went to see Grant, and remained 
with him until the day before the surrender. To one who 
urged that Jefferson Davis ought to be hung, he answered, 
“Judge not, that ye be not judged.^’ Peace was concluded 
on the ninth, and on the fourteenth the Stars and Stripes were 
run up the pole at Fort Sumter. In the morning, Lincoln 
held a cabinet meeting at the White House to consider the 
reconstruction of the Union. There was, he said, too much 
talk around of “persecution” and “ bloody work,” He would 


BROTHERS’ BLOOD 


269 


hang nobody. As soon as certain simple obligations had 
been complied with, the seceded States should come into the 
Union with all their former rights and privileges. “We must 
extinguish our resentments if we expect harmony and union. 
There is too much desire on the part of some of our very good 
friends to be masters, to interfere with and dictate to those 
States, to treat the people not as fellow-citizens; there is too 
little respect for their rights. I do not sympathize in those 
feelings.” He was once more in fact, as he had always been 
in spirit. President of the whole United States. 

In the evening he and Mrs. Lincoln went to the theatre. 
He sat in his box, happy and content, the long vigil ended by 
the side of his broken Union, now reunited, though with wounds 
which he intended to heal. All eyes were on the stage. 
Suddenly a shot rang through the auditorium. Lincoln fell 
forward, unconscious and dying. A half-crazed assassin, 
waving a knife, leaped from the box to the stage, shouted 
“Sic semper tyrannis,” and fled through the stage door to a 
waiting horse. The President was carried to a near-by house, 
laid on a bed, and without regaining consciousness, but with 
a look of perfect peace and rest on his worn features, passed 
away in the early morning. 

The war was won; the Union was preserved; but peace 
and love and honesty and brotherly kindness had fled with 
Lincoln’s soul. 


THE END OF THE FRONTIER 

The Civil War was a convulsion so great as inevitably to 
exert profound effects on the national life. Before considering 
these, we must turn for a moment to the effects on our inter- 
national relations. 

It was quite obvious that thf* rise of a ^eat self-governing 
nation in the New World during the previous three quarters 
of a century could have been hardly pleasing, to say the' least, 
to the governing classes of aristocratic and monarchial Europe. 
England was not yet the democracy that she has since become, 
and Republican France had returned to imperial forms under 
the third Napoleon. From the day of our national birth, 
both nations had treated us with scant respect. We had 
earned some by having at last turned Against one of them and 
fought in 1812, but both continued to accord us as little as 
possible. Our diplomatic relations with England were fre- 
quently strained, particularly when the swaggering Palmers- 
ton was in office ; and we nearly went to war with France in 
Jackson’s time. In spite of Washington’s Farewell Address, 


27 1 


THE END OF THE FRONTIER 

however, we continued to be guided by sentiment, and to 
magnify England’s unfriendliness and to minimize or ignore 
that of France. 

The tide of democracy was rising everywhere, and the 
general revolutionary movements in Europe in 1848 had sent 
shivers down the spine of the upper and ruling classes. The 
lower classes looked to America as an example and a refuge, 
and the upper as a portent and a danger. If the United States 
should split in two, and the experiment of self-government 
thus prove to be at least a partial failure, the results would be 
useful to the European upper classes, and there is no use 
denying that they were anxious for the success of the South. 
Unfortunately such liberals among them as might have been 
on the side of American union were to a great extent alienated 
by the policy which Lincoln had to pursue with regard to 
slavery. At first it was thought that our war was one for 

freedom, but when Lincoln announced that it was solely for 

union, opinion turned against us. Many foreign Liberals 
honestly felt that if the war were not to free the slave but 

merely to coerce a population of five millions to live in a 

Union which they did not desire, there was no moral issue at 
stake, and that the North was waging merely the same sort of 
imperialistic war as had been waged over and over in history. 
Moreover, it was thought that the North could not win, and 
that, if she did, she could never hold the population of the 
South in subjection without making a farce of free government. 
The Emancipation Proclamation did much to remedy this 
error, but throughout the war, speaking broadly, English 
upper-class opinion was strongly against the North, and 
working-class opinion strongly for it. 

On the whole, however, the English government itself 
steered a neutral and ^correct course in its official acts, and 
the letting loose from English shipyards of several successive 
commerce destroyers bought by the Confederate government 
was not so much an act of malice as of contradictory and 
ill-drawn laws, and of official stupidity. When the claims for 
the damage inflicted by them were at last arbitrated in 1872, 


272 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


America was awarded ^15,500,000. The eiFect, however, of 
the depredations of these vessels and of the hostile opinions 
of English society, which was much more vocal than was the 
working class, was deeply resented in our North, and did much 
to strengthen the feeling that England was, always had been, 
and always would be, our inveterate foe. We had been made 
irritable for many decades under the gibes of provincial English 
minds, such as that of Sydney Smith, who in a sneering article 
had asked in 1820, “Who ever reads an American book?” 
By the end of the war, we had added a number of classics to 
English literature, — Emerson’s Essays, Hawthorne’s Scarlet 
Letter, Melville’s Moby Dick, and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, 
— but the Englishmen of that day were unable to recognize 
anything except force as a foundation for respect, and the 
success of the war opened their eyes for the first time to the 
fact that a first-class power was arising in America. The 
world of international relations has always been a world as 
ruthless and devoid of sentimental attachments as is the 
competitive world of modern business. We had somehow, 
in spite of Washington, expected it to be a world of friendliness 
and sympathy, and always suffered a double resentment when 
specific instances proved that it was not. We expected more 
from England than from other nations on account of our 
origin and the many common ties; but, on the other hand, 
there was the steady smouldering anger from old days, kept 
alive by our school oratory, popular histories, politicians who 
catered to both anti-British Americans and the Irish vote, and 
by poets like Lowell. The Civil War thus ended with some 
increase of respect for us in England, and an added bitterness 
in our feeling against her. 

With France the case was different. The French gov- 
ernment, unlike the English, was officrklly hostile toward us, 
and had it not been for the restraining power of England, 
Napoleon would have openly backed the South. As it was, 
he did use the chance of our desperate struggle to invade 
Mexico and establish an empire there with Maximilian as 
ruler, a far more overt act of contempt and hostility than any 


THE END OF THE FRONTIER 


ms 

indulged in by England. But the old tradition that France 
was somehow always our friend led to glossing over such 
hostile acts and to a quick forgetting of them afterward. 

In one respect, some of the English thinkers friendly to us 
were right. A war to maintain the Union by force of arms 
only could not fail to have profound effect on our theory of 
liberty. How were we to reconcile the use of force to bind to 
us a population of five million whites and over three million 
blacks with our Declaration in 1776 that governments derive 
“their just powers from the consent of the governed; that, 
whenever any form of government becomes destructive of 
these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish 
it”? In the simple agrarian colonies of a century earlier, 
it had been easy to declare, when we were revolting against 
imperial power, that it was self-evident that among the 
“inalienable rights” with which the Creator had endowed all 
men were those of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” 
but what became of this doctrine of “natural rights” when 
we were coercing with fire, sword, and bullets a full quarter 
of our white citizens to live under a government which they 
had decided was destructive of their rights ? 

There might have been some offset had we entered upon 
the war to free the three million slaves and bestow the 
enjoyment of these rights upon them, but that purpose was 
distinctly disavowed, and forcible union was the only cause 
officially declared for the war. The doctrine of natural 
rights had already been breaking down, particularly in the 
industrial North. It is an extremely inconvenient one for the 
employer of labor who wants to keep wages low and to control 
the industrial machine. It was a Jeffersonian and not a 
Hamiltonian doctrine, and the North, with its banks, tariffs, 
and manufacturing, had become a Hamiltonian State. The 
conflict between the old Americanism and modern industrialism 
had already become apparent in that section. There had 
always been some confusion of thought in our effort to ride 
simultaneously the two horses of Jefferson and Hamilton. 
The increasing industrialization of American society was 


274 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


steadily to increase that confusion in the future. That in- 
dustrialization was given a tremendous impetus by the war, 
which at the same time dealt a staggering blow to the old 
American theory of natural rights and government by consent 
of the governed. The blow was dealt by the theory of the war, 
and was succeeded by another series in the decade which 
followed the peace, as we shall see. They were to leave us 
with an emotional attachment to the old American doctrine, 
but, when faced by the complex problems of highly organized 
industrialism, with no solid intellectual foundation for our 
theory of government and its functions. 

During the war, the prosperity of the North and West 
greatly increased. At the beginning there was a serious 
crisis. The South owed the North about $ 300 , 000 , 000 , which 
was, of course, a total loss. Many banks, particularly in the 
West, were unable to redeem their notes, and in 1861 came 
the general suspension of specie payments. But once past 
this period, various causes combined to bring about a great 
expansion of business. In comparison with the population, 
a much smaller proportion of Northern and Western men 
were in active military service than was the case in the South, 
and immigration went far to make good those losses. Although 
the number of foreigners arriving dropped somewhat, a total 
of about 800,000 came in during the five years, about 80,000 
of whom went straight through to the West. In the two 
years 1863 to 1865, nearly 2,500,000 acres of farm land in that 
section were taken up under the Homestead Act of 1862, which 
provided that 160 acres could be had free by any intending 
settler. The war itself called for huge supplies of all sorts, 
— shoes, clothing, munitions, and so on, — and manufacturing 
and the invention of new machinery gained a great impetus. 
Agriculture was also exceedingly pro&perous, owing in part 
to the fact that in i860, 1861, and 1862 the harvests of England 
were almost total failures and those of Europe were small 
generally. Our exports of wheat from the North jumped from 
20,000,000 bushels a year to 60,000,000. Two other bits of 
luck favored the North and West. Oil was struck in Penn- 


THE END OF THE FRONTIER 


275 


sylvania in 1859, and by 1864 fabulous incomes were being 
made from it. In the same year that oil was found in the 
Eastj the famous Comstock Lode was located in Nevada, 
which was to become one of the richest mines in the world and 
yielded ^52,000, 000 while the war was on, to which may be 
added about $22,000,000 found in Colorado. The great 
growth in agriculture in the West permitted that section to 
replace the South as the best customer of the East, and the 
railroads shared in the general prosperity. Erie stock, for 
example, rose from 17 to and paid 8 per cent dividends; 
Hudson River from 36 J to 164 and paid 9 per cent. Cities grew 
rapidly. Everywhere there was a “boom,” although labor 
did not fare as well as capitalists and speculators. There was 
scarcely any fighting on Northern soil, and almost no dam- 
age from that source. Unfortunately, on Lee’s dash into 
Pennsylvania, the ironworks of a man whose one idea had 
been to get rich as quickly as possible were destroyed. They 
belonged to Thaddeus Stevens, perhaps the most despicable, 
malevolent, and morally deformed character who has ever 
risen to high power in America. 

When we turn from the North and West, with their 
prosperity, their fortunes in oil and gold and silver, in 
manufactures and railroads, their smiling fields and rapidly 
growing cities, to look at the South during the war, we find a 
picture so different, so unutterably sad, that an American 
would' gladly turn his eyes away. There had been no immi- 
gration, and of the five million whites about one million had 
served in the army. The war had been fought on Southern 
soil, and it had been the policy of the Northern generals to 
cause as widespread destruction as possible. It was boasted 
that, where Sherman had passed, agriculture could not revive 
for a generation. Eveiywhere there were ruined cities and 
towns. To a great extent, railways had been destroyed or 
rendered useless. For four years, against overwhelming odds, 
the Southerners had fought their fight, and yielded only when 
every resource was gone. A large part of the live stock had 
disappeared, Georgia and Louisiana, for example, had lost 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


276 

full half of their horses and mules. Everything was lacking 
with which to begin again. Not until 1880 did the farm 
acreage of Alabama equal that of 1 860. At the end of the war, 
good land, when it could be sold, brought only a sixth or a 
fifth of its pre-war price. In seven States, the value of land 
dropped $1,500,000,000 between i860 and 1870. With the 
Confederate debt and currency worthless, every single bank 
and insurance company was bankrupt. It was estimated 
that the loss in bank capital was $1,000,000,000. By the 
emancipation of the slaves, another $2,000,000,000 was 
completely wiped out. The Southerner was left with his 
depreciated land, without labor, and without money or credit 
with which to hire it. At the end of 1865, it is said that in 
Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi alone there were a half 
million whites without means of subsistence. 

Planters who had been wealthy before the war began to 
follow the mule or ox in the furrow and to do their own 
ploughing of a few acres. The young men — where there 
were any left — and the boys were so sorely needed for manual 
work to keep life in bodies that education had to be partly 
abandoned. The negro, utterly unfit for such a sudden change, 
did not know how to make his own living. Even had the South 
been treated, as Lincoln would have had her, with brotherly 
kindness, or even with mere decency, it would have taken her 
a generation to recover. As we shall see, she was not so 
treated, and we have now to enter upon the most shameful 
decade in our entire national history, and to record a moral 
collapse without precedent and, let us hope, without successor. 
It occurred under the presidency of Johnson and the two 
terms of Grant. 

The centre of infection was the North, which had felt the 
full force of the Industrial Revolution, and in which we have 
already noted the partial breakdown in the morality of the 
business man. The evil tendencies inherent in the situation 
had been markedly reenforced by the slackness of moral fibre 
which war always breeds. I do not mean that the whole body 
of the people had become corrupt or even that there were nof 


THE END OF THE FRONTIER 277 

outstanding examples of probity and sanity among some of 
the larger business men, but the moral confusion of the 
preceding decades, which I have previously tried to analyze, 
had prepared the soil for the rapid growth of the rankest weeds 
which war could nurture. Such general demoralization as 
ensued could not have been possible had the heart of public 
opinion been sound- There has also never been any other 
period in which sectionalism was so clearly marked as it was 
in this one, between the industrial North, the agricultural 
West, and the prostrate South, so we will consider the sections 
separately, though somewhat at the expense of chronological 
order. 

Although business of every sort was booming after the war, 
the period was fundamentally that of railway building. To 
the 35,000 miles in operation in 1865 about 122,000 were added 
by 1887. These latter included the great transcontinental 
lines as well as innumerable shorter ones. The first of the 
former — one of the greatest engineering feats as yet attempted 
by man at that time — was begun even during the war, in 1864, 
and one portion, the Union Pacific, was built westward from 
Omaha while the other section, the Central Pacific, was being 
built eastward from Sacramento. The labor employed on 
the eastern one was mostly Irish, and that on the western, 
Chinese, strikingly typifying the meeting of the two worlds 
on American soil. On May 10, 1869, the two construction 
lines mfet at a point about fifty miles west of Ogden, Utah, 
and the telegraph clicked the news to the world that the 
United States was spanned from ocean to ocean, bound 
together by iron bands of communication and the overhead 
wires that made the transit of news instantaneous. As other 
lines followed, the Northern Pacific, Great Northern, and the 
tens of thousands of mil«s of short lines in all sections of the 
country, it was evident that the American people, numbering 
38,000,000 in 1870, 50,000,000 in 1880, and 63,000,000 in 1890, 
had entered upon a new phase. This vast population, 
occupying an area of over 3,000,000 square miles of contigu- 
ous territory, without tariff barriers, all living under one 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


278 

government, easily afforded the greatest opportunities in the 
world for exploiting a domestic market of unprecedented size 
and for the growth of vast aggregations of capital in the form 
of corporate enterprise. 

The building of such a colossal network of rail lines 
stimulated the most varied sorts of business, much as did the 
rise of the motor industry in the next century, only upon a 
much larger scale. We hastened, as we always have, to seize 
as quickly as possible every chance to share in the sudden 
development. The whole economic structure of the nation 
was being transformed with amazing rapidity, and the prizes 
were colossally great. People began to talk casually about 
millions who before the war had thought only in thousands. 

Our progress has never been conservative and orderly. 
The great periods of rapid advance between our crises of 
depression have more resembled the rough-and-tumble of 
gigantic gold rushes. Men, looking only at prizes and results 
for themselves personally, have not often stopped to consider 
methods and influences. Four of the great Western railroads 
were built with government aid, both in cash and in land 
grants, and in a few years the government gave to these 
private corporations approximately 130,000,000 acres, or a 
domain greater than three New Englands. Not content with 
even this loot, the promoters ^watered the stock of the roads 
upon a gigantic scale, and made profits from the construction 
companies which were organized by the insiders so that their 
profits might be secure before the risks were passed on to the 
feverishly speculating and gullible public. The Union Pacific, 
for example, appears to have been built entirely at the ex- 
pense of the government and the first-mortgage bondholders, 
the total cost having been about 150,000,000, whereas the 
promoters got about $23,000,000 through a subsidiary cor- 
poration, the Cridit Mobilier. One of the leading figures in 
the road was Oakes Ames, member of Congress from Massa- 
chusetts, who distributed shares in this little gold mine of 
profit to other members of Congress and public men, “where 
they will do the most good to us,” on the principle, as he wrote. 


THE END OF THE FRONTIER 


279 


that it would “induce men to look after their own property.” 
When, a few years later, the scandal was aired, the reputation 
of even such men as James A. Garfield was smirched, and the 
extraordinary part was that none of them appeared to consider 
that they had been engaged in any unethical practices. Our 
Minister to England left a lasting reputation of a sort behind 
him at the Court of St. James’s by using his official position 
to market the sale of stock in a worthless gold mine to citizens 
of the nation to which he was accredited. 

Everywhere there was close alliance between corrupt 
financiers and corrupt public officials. The American business 
man — which meant, speaking broadly, almost the entire 
electorate of the prosperous classes — had, as we have seen, 
adopted the plan of allowing his governments, municipal and 
State, to be run by hired men in the form of politicians so as 
to leave himself free to pursue more lucrative callings. How- 
ever, in a world getting rich quickly, the hired men wanted 
" theirs” also. Bribery and corruption became general. It was 
the period of the notorious “Tweed Ring” in New York. The 
Ring, under the lead of Boss Tweed, came into full power in the 
election of 1868, and by the autumn of 1871 had carried off loot 
from the city treasury to an amount variously estimated from 
$45,000,000 to $200,000,000. The scale and openness of the 
stealing were beyond belief. A courthouse which was planned 
to cost, complete, $250,000 cost the city over $8,000,000 with- 
out being finished. The conditions were generally known, yet 
such men as John Jacob Astor, Moses Taylor, and Marshall O. 
Roberts, after a cursory examination of the city’s books, lasting 
six hours, stated that the city administration was in order. 

In November 1871 the Guardian Savings Bank, of which 
William M. Tweed was president, failed in New York City, 
soon followed by the Bowling Green, National, and Market 
Savings Banks, all of which were closely affiliated with the local 
political ring. One of them had been specially designated by 
the immigration authorities as being desirable for newly arrived 
immigrants to deposit their money in, and the failures created 
much scandal. Only $2,000,000 was involved, but as months 


28 o 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


went by and the scandal grew, the poorer classes more and 
more lost confidence in all the city’s savings institutionsj and 
withdrew an amount estimated by the Commercial and Finan- 
cial Chronicle to have been over ^20,000,000. 

The story of Jay Gould, Daniel Drew, and Commodore 
Vanderbilt has become a malodorous classic in American 
business, and we need not dwell on the details. In the fight 
between Vanderbilt and the other two for stock-market 
profits and the control of railroads, Drew, Gould, and Fisk 
printed |i6,ooo,ooo of bogus Erie certificates of stock, broke 
the price, and filed to New Jersey. The fight was transferred 
to the legislature at Albany, where Gould bought the mem- 
bers (Senators getting $i5,cxx> each for their votes) and had 
the issue legalked. One State Senator took ^75,000 from 
Vanderbilt, then ^100,000 from Gould, and voted for the 
latter. In 1868, Gould and Fisk started printing again, and, 
without consulting the Board of Directors, printed about 
|2o, 000,000 in certificates, which they sold for about 
$10,000,000. They deposited this sum and about $5,000,000 
more in banks in New York, and then suddenly called for the 
entire amount in “greenbacks,” or the legal-tender paper 
money. To save their reserves, the banks had to call loans 
in a frenzy, and the stock market crashed, while Gould and 
Fisk bought back the stock they had previously sold. By 
this time the investors in Erie had nothing but a cast-off 
snake’s skin for their money. 

The financial system of the nation had not yet gone back to 
a gold basis, but gold had to be used in certain financial 
transactions, especially in international trade. There was 
thus a market in the metal which commanded a premium 
above paper money. The year after the last coup, Gould and 
Fisk determined to bring about a n'ational crisis and reap 
another fortune by cornering gold. For this, it was necessary 
to make sure that the Secretary of the Treasury in Washington 
would not sell government gold and break the corner. Gould 
thought this had been accomplished. By September 24, 1869, 
he had forced gold up to 162, and panic reigned throughout 


THE END OF THE FRONTIER 281 

the country. On that day, which has ever since been known 
in our history as “Black Friday,” hundreds of innocent 
commercial firms went bankrupt, and as a later Congressional 
Committee stated, “the business of the whole country was 
paralyzed for weeks” and the “foundations of business 
morality” shaken. The corner was broken by the sale of 
^4,000,000 gold by the Treasury, but the slimy trail led 
perilously close to President Grant himself. Gould, who 
owned certain judges, including the notorious Barnard, saved 
himself by repudiation of contracts. To put it mildly. Grant 
was, as has been said, “painfully blunt in his ethical percep- 
tions,” and although it is almost certain he did not personally 
conspire with Gould, his sheltering of malfeasance in office 
of some of his higher officials on various occasions helped to 
debauch the public morale. The better sort of business men 
were caustic in their comments on such doings as we have 
noted above and all too many others which were rife throughout 
the nation, but seemed helpless before the pirates and cut- 
throats of high finance. 

The magnitude of our resources on the one hand, and of the 
market to be exploited on the other, began to usher in our new 
period of consolidations and the rise of corporations. Railways 
began to be merged, and dominating figures to appear in certain 
industries, such as meat packing in the West and oil in the 
East. To a considerable extent, as in the case of Rockefeller 
and the Standard Oil, the railways were used, by means of 
rebates and special favors of one sort and another, to wipe out 
smaller competitors and to build up the power of the new oil, 
coal, or meat “barons,” and others, of our modern America. 
In 1879, the Rockefeller group had organized a new form of 
control to replace the “pools” which had been declared illegal 
in the courts. Stockholders in corporations were invited to 
transfer their certificates to “trustees,” surrendering their 
voting power in the individual companies and receiving a 
participating certificate in the “trust,” a majority of the new 
shares being held, m the case of Standard Oil, by four of the 
“ trustees.” Within three years these were in control of 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


282 

between 90 and 95 per cent of the refining capacity of the 
nation. This was soon followed by the sugar" trust,” and 
others, but it was not until about 1890 that public opposition 
became strongly aroused. We shall discuss the influences of 
the trust problem in later chapters. 

Amid all this frenzied “prosperity,” labor had not fared 
well. The inflation of prices, due to paper money and the war, 
had raised wages in terms of money, but although by 1866 
wages were about 60 per cent above those of i860, the workmen 
were not as well off, the rise in commodity prices having been 
about 90 per cent, and in rents yet greater. The panic which 
swept the country in 1873 added to their distress. Eighty-nine 
railroads went into the hands of receivers and the building of 
new mileage was largely suspended, throwing a half million 
laborers out of work. Nearly three hundred of our approx- 
imately seven hundred iron and steel plants closed down. 
Five thousand commercial houses failed in 1873, 5830 in 1874, 
7740 in 1875, 9092 in 1876, almost 9000 in 1877, and 10,478 
in 1878. 

While consolidations and trusts were coming into being, 
laying the foundations for stupendous fortunes and almost 
unlimited power over the lives and fortunes of the working 
people, wages were steadily being forced down, and the 
industrial communities were “a weary and aching mass of 
unemployed.” In 1877, the first important railway strike 
in the country occurred on the Baltimore and Ohio at Martins- 
burgh owing to a 10 per cent reduction in wages, and was 
suppressed by Federal troops, after the militia had joined the 
strikers. Shortly after. Federal troops had to be sent to 
Cumberland, and at Pittsburgh strikers destroyed property 
of the Pennsylvania Railroad valued at $3,500,000. None 
of these strikes were called by unions,’ but this period saw the 
rise of unions among the working people as it did of trusts 
among the capitalists. The problems of an industrialized 
America were obviously arising. The Hamiltonian State 
was coming of age. 

“We must extinguish our resentments if we would expect 


THE END OF THE FRONTIER 283 

harmony and union,” Lincoln had said on the last morning 
of his life- It is probable that he fully realized the strength 
of the forces of corruption and fanaticism and bitterness in 
the North which he would somehow have to control if his 
hope of a nation united in heart and with a minimum of 
rancor were to find fulfillment. A conspiracy of a handful, 
led by a half-madman, had destroyed the one man who stood 
between his country and the powers of evil, and had plunged 
us all into a sea of infamy and misery. Looking forward to 
the eventual reestablishment of the Union with a minimum 
of friction and ill-feeling, Lincoln had wisely, through many 
constitutional and international difficulties, held to the theory 
that the seceded States could not be, and had not been, out 
of the Union ; that secession was a constitutional impossibility ; 
and that they were merely temporarily out of normal relation. 
As soon as the war was over, he had intended, in the simplest 
and easiest way possible, to reestablish the old relations, and 
allow every State to function normally. 

Unfortunately there were forces in the North which would 
not permit of this, once Lincoln had gone. These forces were 
of various sorts. There was, for one, the fierce fanaticism 
that had always been ready to break out in the North from 
Puritan days, and which had been fanned to fierce flame by 
the Abolitionists. They had painted the Southern slave 
owner as a devil incarnate and had created a deep hatred of 
the ScJUth. There were also the stay-at-homes, business men, 
politicians, and others, who, having taken good care never 
to risk their precious lives in fighting, made up for their record 
in the war, or lack of it, by vituperative hatred afterward. 
This always occurs after every war. No one ever pretends 
to hate the enemy or covers him with obloquy so deeply as 
does the man or woman who never met him in fair fight. 
There was also the Republican party man who realized that 
as long as the Southern States were kept out of full relation 
to the Union, and in subjection, the Republican Party would 
have complete domination of the nation. The Democrats 
could not win without South and West; and if the South 


THE EPIC GF AMERICA 


284 

were sterilked politically by being allowed to send no mem- 
bers to Congress, or to send only Republican members by 
manipulation of the elections, the Republicans had nothing 
to fear whatever they might do. There were also those who 
clearly saw that if Congress could dominate the South, instead 
of reestablishing her, there would be fat pickings and innu- 
merable political offices for Northerners. 

All these and other factors combined to defeat the dead 
President's hopes of a reunited country. His successor, 
Andrew Johnson, had originally been a Democrat, but had 
been the leading loyal Tennesseean when that State se- 
ceded, and had been placed on the ticket with Lincoln to 
win favor in the border States. From the lowliest of 
beginnings, unable to write until after his marriage, having 
been left in earliest childhood without a father but with a 
mother to support, he had risen manfully and had carved out 
an honorable career for himself. When Lincoln’s assassination 
made him President, Johnson was not a Lincoln, but he was 
an honest man who, when the first few days had elapsed after 
the office was so unexpectedly thrust upon him, tried to carry 
out Lincoln’s policy for the South and a reunited nation. 

Two men of considerable contemporary importance had 
already, before Lincoln’s death, given the keynote to the 
policies which the Republican's were to follow — Thaddeus 
Stevens, the vindictive fanatic born in Vermont whose 
ironworks in Pennsylvania had been burned by the' Con- 
federates, member of the lower House of Congress, and Charles 
Sumner, Senator from Massachusetts. Sumner had claimed 
that secession had deprived the South of every right under the 
Constitution, and that it lay absolutely at the mercy of 
Congress, which was another way of naming the Republican 
Party. Stevens had declared that Congress must treat the 
Southern States as “conquered provinces, and settle them 
with new men, and drive the present exiles as rebels from this 
country.” Under such leadership, Congress undertook the 
task of punishing the South, making places and spoils for its 
henchmen, and ensuring for a generation the national 


THE END OF THE FRONTIER 285 

domination of the Republicans. The vindictiveness of Stevens 
and the fanaticism and egotism of Sumner combined to despoil 
the nation of that peace which Lincoln would have brought. 
The electorate gave them all-too-ready backing. For the 
next decade the South lived under a military despotism from 
which almost every trace of self-government was obliterated. 

In only six of the Northern or Western States did the negroes, 
whose numbers there were small, possess the franchise, and in 
1865 Connecticut, Minnesota, and Wisconsin voted against 
granting it in their own domains. The next year Congress, 
as part of its plan to Republicanize the South, drafted the 
Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, heavily reducing 
the basis of representation in Congress of such States as did 
not allow the negro to vote. This was adopted two years 
later. The Fifteenth Amendment, adopted in 1870, forcibly 
enfranchised, without the slightest preparation, the slaves, 
who formed about 70 per cent of the Southern population. 
Just as both political parties in the North had debauched the 
immigrant voters and led them to the polls in shoals, so the 
Southern black was now to be debauched. 

In 1867, Congress passed the Reconstruction Act, which 
divided the South into five districts to be administered by 
Generals of the Federal army. It also provided for the holding 
of elections, in which the ex-slaves should vote, for delegates 
to constitutional conventions which should adopt constitutions 
providing for negro suffrage. These had to be submitted to 
the blacks as well as the whites for adoption. Until these 
constitutions had been drafted, approved by Congress, and 
the Fourteenth Amendment adopted, the Southern States 
were to continue to be ruled by the army under supervision 
of Congress. Johnson vetoed the Act, but it was passed over 
his veto, and when he had proved himself sufBciently a defender 
of the Federal Constitution and of Lincoln’s policy against 
the radicals in Congress, that body undertook to disgrace the 
nation and itself by impeaching him on a trumpery charge. 
The impeachment, under the lead of Stevens, broke down, but 
Congress continued its mad course. 


286 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


In the South, conditions developed as might have been 
expected. A disgraceful horde of office and spoils seekers from 
the North, known as “carpetbaggers,” swarmed over it. 
Combining with the riffraff of Southern whites, known as 
“scalawags,” and the utterly ignorant negroes, they formed 
parties, elected the legislatures, and stole with the complete 
abandon of Boss Tweed and his gang in New York. The taxes 
rose tenfold and fifteenfold, and debts were created, not for 
improvements or other legitimate purposes, but to line the 
pockets of these political shysters. Rhodes, who made as 
good a case as he could for the North, notes, for example, that 
in four years of Republican rule in Louisiana the State tax 
rose 400 per cent and the State debt from $14,000,000 post- 
war to an indeterminate amount estimated anywhere from 
$24,000,000 to $50,000,000 post-Republican. Of the $22,000,- 
000 debt of the city of New Orleans, $17,000,000 had been is- 
sued at 35 cents on the dollar. One estate in that city which 
even after the war, in 1867, was bringing in $70,000 income, 
could not be rented five years later for enough to pay taxes, 
insurance, and repairs. 

Scenes in the legislative halls of ail the States would have 
been laughable had they not been tragic. Crowds of Northern 
muckers, and blacks who had been slaves a short time since, 
swaggered about, smoking and prinking at the States’ expense, 
ruling the South. There is no parallel for the situation in the 
history of modern civilized nations, and it is almost incredible 
that it occurred within our own country. No civilized victor 
was ever more ungenerous. The war had left the South 
prostrate; Reconstruction left it maddened. 

Little by little, however, the South began to pick itself up. 
The new constitutions and the Fourteenth Amendment were 
ratified, and one by one, from Tennessee in 1866 to Virginia 
in 1870, the Southern States again became members of the 
Union. 

The negro was held in check by the Ku-Klux Klan and 
terroristic methods temporarily. Gradually the labor problem 
had been adjusted and various ways of employing the former 


THE END OF THE FRONTIER 287 

slaves devised and set in motion. The section still remained 
a single-crop one, but cotton was again, by large yields and 
good prices, set up as king. The old planter aristocracy was 
dethroned, but the “poor whites” became more prosperous. 
In the lower South, the number of farms doubled between 
i860 and 1880, showing the extent of the social revolution 
which had taken place. Within this period there was little 
of that industrial development which later occurred, but the 
statistics show steady improvement. 

Statistics, however, do not tell much about civilization in 
many of its aspects. For a generation before the war, as we 
have noted, the South had come to have less and less intellectual 
and beneficent influence on our national statesmanship, owing 
to her having had to devote herself to the task of defending her 
type of culture, which had become an anachronism. Then 
came the war, and after that. Reconstruction and its long 
horror. If, later, the South was to become solidly Democratic 
in its party allegiance (the black Republican vote ceasing to 
count), it was as little wonder as that, unfortunately, she could 
not for a time give to that party the wise leadership that she 
had given to the country in the early days of our history. It 
would obviously take a long time, through suffering, poverty, 
war, social revolution, and the rise of new classes from the 
bottom, to replace the Southcin any position of intellectual 
and cultural leadership. Any group or party conscious of 
unoppdsed power is bound to degenerate. The Republican 
Party, only a decade old, had been put to the test and 
completely failed. It was essentially the party of tariffs and 
the industrial interests — that is, of the North. Two parties 
are essential, and it was a national misfortune that both the 
South and the West, our agrarian sections, each from its own 
causes, were unable in "the next crisis to produce the states- 
manship that was called for. More and more the Republican 
Party was to become the party of wealth, privilege, education, 
and power ; whereas, lacking these things, the Democrats yet 
represented genuine grievances and matters of the deepest 
import to national life and the American dream. 


288 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


The West had been growing rapidly during the war, the 
stream of emigration continuing steadily during the struggle. 
With the return of peace, the sudden mounting again of foreign 
immigration, the mustering out of the huge Northern army, 
and the hard times after 1873, population in the Western 
States and cities multiplied fast. Germans in the Valley and 
Scandinavians in the Northern States, such as Minnesota, 
began to alter the hitherto solid Anglo-Saxon character of the 
people. So quickly did the whole section develop that 
Nebraska, although one of the least populated Territories, 
having only about 25,000 at the beginning of the war, could 
boast not long after of that number in the one city of Omaha 
alone. By 1870, Missouri had become the fifth State in 
population of the entire Union, and St. Louis third in size of 
all our cities. This increase was hastened by the opening of 
great tracts of land on easy terms. Under the Morrill Act of 
Congress all the States had received from the public domain 
grants of land to be sold for the purpose of establishing 
agricultural and mechanic colleges on the basis of 30,000 acres 
for each Congressman, New York thus receiving nearly a 
million acres. There were also the 130,000,000 acres granted 
to the railroads, which they tried to sell and settle as rapidly 
as possible, both to get the ready cash and to build up traffic. 
Lastly, the Homestead Act, granting free farms to settlers, 
accounted for nearly fifty thousand new farms within a few 
years. " 

Until the end of the war, however, there were but few 
settlers on the great plains, the “American Desert” having 
baffled the pioneers. In the almost treeless waste, carpeted 
with bunch grass, swept by hot and parching winds in summer 
and by blizzards in winter, where long periods of killing drought 
were punctuated by almost more dreaded torrential rains 
which flooded dry river beds and lowlands, it seemed as though 
there could never be anything to allure permanent white 
settlement. The Indians and herds of bison numbering 
millions swept over it, and the land-hungry farmer could see 
no good in it. Some persisted in trying, and by 1867 Abilene, 


THE END OF THE FRONTIER 


289 


in Kansas, was a far-flung post of those who wanted to establish 
an agricultural community, but the settlers, discouraged, just 
managed to hold on without getting ahead. Two railroads, 
however, had crossed the plains from east to west on their way 
to the coast, and provided a way to market for anything which 
could be raised in the Desert. One of these had first been 
completed as far as Abilene, but there were no crops in Abilene 
to be shipped, hardly enough to keep the settlement itself alive. 

It was a harsh, deteriorating life on the plains in those days, 
as it had been on frontier after frontier, and there is no use 
in idealizing it. Everything was restless and uncertain. No 
one knew whether a town would fail or succeed. There was 
nothing beautiful in the mud and dust of the Main Street 
with its unpainted ugly buildings. Women who came from 
better homes in the East to pioneer with restless husbands 
found the life so hard that they would perforce grow slack and 
drab and careless. The hard water made washing almost 
impossible. In the long dry months of dust and furious winds, 
the dust was everywhere. It stung the eyes when you walked, 
seeped through windows and covered furniture an hour after 
it was dusted, got into hair and stayed there, with only scant 
water to wash it out. Women who, as Stuart Henry, an early 
pioneer, tells us, would wash the windows regularly in their old 
homes got into the way of leaving them for six months at a 
time. 

No one will ever know what the women of all our successive 
frontiers underwent in hardships and toil of one sort and 
another, depending in part, like the Western dust and hard 
water, on local conditions, and in part on the universal 
conditions of the rough life, incessant childbearing, and 
physical work. Their courage and loyalty were beyond 
praise, and their comfiarative scarcity had two important 
consequences. One was that their legal status gradually 
improved with regard to their rights of property, and the other 
was that they came to possess extraordinary freedom. In the 
larger frontier towns, particularly such as attracted men with 
money as miners or cowmen, prostitutes appeared naturally. 


2go 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


and there was always a somewhat slack morality among the 
lower sort of frontier folk. But a woman was always presumed 
to be virtuous in the sexual sense, and if she cared to remain 
so, “ as, after all, most did, — she was absolutely safe both 
in fact and in reputation. The conditions of frontier life 
often compelled a man to be away from home and perhaps 
take refuge for the night in another house where the man was 
also absent. For the sake of protection of each man’s own 
wife, a sort of unwritten law came to be universally and 
absolutely observed. No man would think of approaching 
an honest woman, and so rigidly was the rule observed that 
even when men and women, perhaps absolute strangers to 
one another, thus spent a night under the same roof, no whisper 
of scandal would be breathed because it was felt there would 
be no foundation for it. It is possible that in respect to 
commercialized vice the American has been no more moral 
than the men of other nations, though that is by no means 
certain. It is not unlikely that the self-control learned under 
frontier conditions would exert an influence on his general 
conduct in this regard. It is certain, however, that until very 
recent years, notably after the World War, there was a remark- 
able freedom of social intercourse between the sexes un tinged by 
any thought of immorality, a freedom which had its marked 
effect on the American girl and woman, who came to feel them- 
selves both free and safe to go anywhere and do as they pleased. 

Combined, on the frontier and in small villages everywhere, 
with the evident need for a strict code mentioned above, there 
was the incessant tittle-tattle of a small group who had nothing 
to do when their work was done, and who lived where they 
could see everyone else. Out in the frontier towns, there was 
such a dearth of news as to constitute a sort of mental famine 
condition. Anything would make talk? for a week. As Henry 
notes of Abilene, “a ‘bunch’ of Indians skirting through, a 
string of prairie ‘schooners’ passing, a train an hour late, even 
a change in the wind, afforded subjects of extended interest. 
Godsends in the way of news were a dog-fight, a swearing 
quarrel between two residents, the broken limb of a neighbor 


THE END OF THE FRONTIER 


291 


tumbling off a new roof.” Squalor, lack of beauty in landscape 
or buildings, hard work punctuated by sheer idleness when 
work was done, a tendency toward shiftlessness and imper- 
manence, the hope in the incessant flux of towns rising or 
falling that the farm might in a few years be “city lots” which 
would make the owner rich whether he farmed well or not, 
ingrowing minds with nothing worth while to feed on — all 
these form part of the background of all our frontiers. Had 
there been only one frontier, which gradually became settled 
and richly civilized, the effect might have been slight and 
quickly worn off, but when repeated again and again and yet 
again for nearly three centuries, the effect went so deep that 
it will take us long to eradicate it. 

Such a frontier town was Abilene in the Civil War, typical 
of all the other little settlements pushed out on the plains to 
see what could be made of the fight against the flies, 
grasshoppers, winds, snows, dust storms, strange soil, uncertain 
prospects for crops ; composed of ne’er-do-weels, hard workers, 
godly men and women, “bad men,” drunks, a Sunday School, 
saloons, shabby homes; with chances of becoming a city or 
reverting to prairie grass and silence. 

Before the war, Texas had been our great cattle-raising 
State, but, cut off from the North by secession and from the 
South by Union armies after the occupation of the Mississippi 
River, no market remained for the tens of thousands of cattle 
on its ranges, and the business was ruined. A man in Abilene, 
Joseph G. McCoy, conceived the idea in 1867 that Texas cattle 
could be driven up the old Chisholm Trail across the plains, 
sold at Abilene, and transported over the new railroad to 
Kansas City. Thus began one of the most picturesque phases 
of American industrial life. 

It was found that cafetle could prosper on the plains even if 
the farmer could not, and vast herds began to be driven 
northward the whole length of the Desert from Texas to 
the Canadian border. At first they were merely driven up 
in the summer to meet the various railways at different points, 
but as this put the cattlemen at the mercy of the Eastern 




THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


buyers from the Kansas City, Chicago, and other stockyards, 
they began to establish ranches where the cattle could be held 
and sold when the market better warranted. Texas cattle 
had always had the name of making very tough meat, but 
fattening on the plains grass and an improvement in the breed 
obviated that difficulty, and for a couple of decades the profits 
in the business were enormous. The “cattle kings” began to 
appear in the “cow towns” where they met their herds driven 
in by the cowboys, and a new type enlivened the already 
colorful life of the West, quite different from that of the mining 
towns. In 1871 more than six hundred thousand cattle, each 
herd in charge of its cowboys, followed the long trail up from 
Texas to one point and another in the North. It was hard, 
dangerous, and difficult work. The Indians occasionally made 
trouble, and the herd itself was often unruly. Rounded up 
at night, it might start at the slightest strange noise in a panic 
of fear and scatter for miles around. The cowboys found that 
by circling around the cattle while they were asleep, and 
crooning a song to them, they might be kept from stampeding, 
and new folk songs came — anonymously, as always — to fill 
the need of daily work. 

Oh, lay still, dogies, since you have laid down, 

Stretch away out on the big open ground ; 

Snore loud, little dogies, and drown the wild sound 
That will all go away when the day rolls round, 

Hi-oo, hi-00, 00-00. 

In some of the cowboys’ songs, we get marvelously the 
swing and movement of the horses as they ride, driving the 
steers along the interminable trail through the clouds of dust 
flung up by a hundred thousand hoofs. 

It ’s whooping and yelling and driving the dogies; 

Oh, how I wish you would go on ; 

It ’s whooping and punching and go on, little dogies, 

For you know Wyoming will be your new home. 

The end of the frontier was in sight, though the cowboy and 
the cattle king did not know it; and the cowboy was the last, 


THE END OF THE FRONTIER 


293 


as he was the most brilliant, flash of color in all our varied ways 
of making a living. He had learned his trade, as he had taken 
much of his language and dress, from the Spaniards, and the 
cattle that pounded on the long trails were the descendants 
in part of those which had come from Spain before there was a 
white man on our Atlantic Coast. 

While McCoy had been making Abilene one of the first of 
the cow towns, another man there was experimenting with 
what was to prove a more lasting cause of change in the plains, 
and to bring on a conflict of ways of life. The cattle business 
had brought a certain hectic prosperity to Abilene, as it did 
to other cow towns, but no genuine civilization could rise where 
a town was full of cowboys, cattle kings, “bad men,” prosti- 
tutes, gamblers, revolver shots, and whiskey for a few weeks 
each year, and dead the rest. In mining towns, most of the 
inhabitants were men, but in these cow towns on the rail- 
roads the contrast between the temporary influx of the cattle 
crowd and the small- town, law-abiding folk who were trying 
to make a living there twelve months a year was piquant 
enough. 

In another section of the West, stretching up from Illinois 
to Minnesota, wheat had become the predominant crop, almost 
as much as cotton in the South. A great wheat kingdom was 
rising. In 1870, “winter wh^at” had brought the highest 
prices in the markets, and at Abilene, T. C. Henry conceived 
the idea of trying to raise it in the bottom lands of the plains 
in the Great American Desert. He sowed it secretly, and to his 
joy raised his crop. Later, it was to be found that it could be 
raised on the higher ground also. At last a use was found for 
the Desert, and the contest was on between the farmer and the 
cattle king. Overproduction, fierce competition, and other 
causes were already urydermining the prosperity of the cow 
country, but its lords did not yield without a struggle against 
farmers, homesteads, and barbed-wire enclosures. They had 
come to consider the vast public domain as theirs by some sort 
of divine right to pasture their cattle upon, but the end was in 
sight. By 1880, the victory was with the farmer and a settled 


294 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


civilization. The Desert could be made to blossom, and the 
Indian and the cowboy were both doomed. 

The West of this period was no longer solely agricultural. 

In the big cities, St. Louis, Chicago, and lesser ones, great 
business enterprises and even manufacturing were giving them 
an industrial aspect, but as a whole the West was a farming • 
community, and the cities were as dependent on agriculture 
as the farmer himself — the great meat-packing plants, the 
manufacturers of farm machinery, the great distributing mail- 
order houses, banks, and others. The city population was 
only a small part of the total in any case, and the West was 
democratic, agrarian, old American in ideals. The many for- 
eign strains now becoming numerous only made it more so, from 
small colonies scattered here and there, such as the Swiss “ River 
Brethren,” the “Russian Mennonites,” and the Pennsylvania 
“Dutch,” to the great masses of Germans and Swedes and Nor- 
wegians. These people had no great wealth. They were for the 
most part struggling against odds — droughts, plagues of grass- 
hoppers, cinch bugs, debt, and all the ills that can afflict a farmer. 

The world was becoming •enormously complex. The West 
had been built up largely by transportation — rivers, pack 
trails, roads, canals, and now railways. America as a nation 
was in the full swing of industrialism and capitalism. The 
farmer was no radical as to property as he saw it, no communist 
or anarchist, but he wanted a square deal and a chance to get 
ahead. There were bound to be genuine conflicts of interest 
between industrialism and agrarianism. The Republican Party 
was dominant and was that of the industrial East, the East 
of banks and railway ownership, of absentee capital in all 
its forms. It would be difficult perhaps, in any case, for the 
opposition party, that representing the exploited — the farmers ; 

and laboring class — instead of the exploiters, to command the 
brains that the party of wealth could command. Such a party 
would have to find its main strength in the laboring class in the 
East and in the agricultural South and West, chiefly the latter 
two. The problems to be solved and the conflicts to be re- 
solved were genuine, and were due to the impact of the new 


THE END OF THE FRONTIER 


m 

Industrial Revolution on a world which had never before known 
industrialism on a large scale. They were emphasized with 
us by the intensity of exploitation of our resources and the im- 
mensity of the prizes to be won by those who could exploit 
them on a large scale. No hope could be expected from the 
party of tariffs and banks and manufacturing and special privi- 
lege. Even with absolute purity of intention, which we need 
not say we do not expect to find in any political party, it would 
of necessity be biased by the standpoint of its members. It 
would be more inclined, as it did, to “wave the bloody shirt” 
by proclaiming itself the savior of the Union in the war and 
denouncing the rebel South than to understand or remedy the 
abuses under which whole sections of the people outside its fold 
were suffering. Unfortunately, as we have seen, one section 
which would make up a large part of the strength of an opposi- 
tion, the South, had been set far back on the intellectual road 
by circumstances. The other, the West, had not yet advanced 
very far on the same road. 

Life in the West for all newcomers had been hard, terribly 
hard. To stake out a claim and bring it under cultivation had 
meant physical toil of such a sort as to leave little energy for 
thought and education. Although there had been innumerable 
exceptions, the great majority of pioneers and settlers had 
been men and women of compgiratively little background, edu- 
cation, or experience of the complications of modern industrial 
problems. In the hard toil of community building, not a little 
sentiment had sprung up against education in the frontier set- 
tlements. As one of the first settlers of Abilene tells us, it was 
felt that too much book learning somehow might interfere with 
success under the conditions of the life that must be led, and 
that it removed one from his fellows. The frontiersmen felt 
that the mere fact of being Americans gave them superiority, 
and that knowledge of how to meet “well enough” the prob- 
lems of their daily round made education superfluous if not 
harmful. Unfortunately, the problems of the daily round were 
being complicated by modern business in a way that the farmers 
began to see, but could not fathom. 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


296 

I do not mean that there was no desire for education in the 
West. There was, and schools and State “Universities” were 
• springing up. By the end of the war, the University of Wis- 
consin, now one of the best, institutions in the country, was 
already in existence, but it was housed in a couple of dilapi- 
dated buildings, with a tiny library, and was declared to be 
not much more than an academy for the village of Madison. 
In 1873, in fact, there were only 23,0010 college students in the 
entire United States, and the bulk of these were naturally in 
the East. When we speak of the “West,” we understand, of 
course, that there were innumerable “Wests,” all the way from 
the snug, comfortable towns of Indiana or Illinois, some of 
which could not have been distinguished from identical ones 
in New England or New York, out to the roughest group of 
new shanties along a “Main Street” that was alternately mud 
ruts or blinding dust, lined with a few saloons and unpainted, 
unbeautiful boxes for human habitation. Life might be virile, 
but it was narrow, and for the great mass of the people there 
was little contact with the world back East over the mountains. 
Even to-day, when one gets irito the great Valley, one feels that 
one is in an empire so vast as to make a world of its own, and 
the other worlds we have left, Europe and the American East, 
seem to diminish in importance and interest as they disappear 
into more and more thousands of miles of distance. Crossing 
the mountains to the westward of this empire, again, and reach- 
ing the Pacific Coast, we come to our fourth distinct section, 
but in this period it was not of primary influence on the nation. 

That the West would of necessity be behind the East in in- 
tellectual attainments and opportunities was inevitable from 
its being a new country as contrasted with an old and now 
wealthy one. If we allow that premise, we can judge of the 
barrenness of the West better by observing that even in the 
East, until after 1870, not only were there no postgraduate 
schools or courses, but in leading universities there was no polit- 
ical science or sociology taught, as at Yale, nor practically 
any history, as at Columbia. At the latter institution, one 
unfortunate professor had to teach moral and mental philos- 


THE END OF THE FRONTIER 


297 

ophy, English literature, such history as was called for, politi- 
cal economy, and logic. If this was the best that some of the 
oldest institutions of the East could offer, it is not hard to im- 
agine what would be found in the newly established struggling 
State Universities of the raw West. In the main it was to 
the South and the West that one had to look for an opposition 
party which would speak for the rights of the plain man rather 
than of capital. We should expect to find a good many errors 
in the consideration of complex social and economic questions, 
mixed with a good deal of plain common sense. 

Every class in power, whether an aristocracy, a plutocracy, 
or the lower economic strata in a democracy, naturally sees 
things much from the angle of its particular desires and pros- 
perity, and finds it difficult if not impossible to transcend them. 
During and after the war, the capitalists — the old ones and 
the swarms of new — were rapidly entrenching themselves by 
means of the tariff, the forming of corporations, and the con- 
trol of courts and legislatures. There was plenty of corrup- 
tion in Western legislatures as well, but for the most part the 
really great corporations, such as the railroads and the new 
“trusts,” were owned and operated from the East, where a 
new type of corporation lawyer emerged to assist the process. 
The general issue, not yet settled, was beginning to be clear. 

In 1873, the Chief Justice of Wisconsin, Edward G. Ryan, 
one of the abler leaders of the West in that period, posed the 
problem clearly in his address to the graduating class at the 
University in his State, “There is looming up,” he said, “a 
new and dark power. I cannot dwell upon the signs and shock- 
ing omens of its advent. The accumulation of individual 
wealth seems to be greater than it ever has been since the down- 
fall of the Roman Empire. The enterprises of the country are 
aggregating vast corporate combinations of unexampled capi- 
tal, boldly marching, not for economic conquests only, but for 
political power. For the first time really in our politics, money 
is taking the field as an organized power. . . . The question 
will arise, and arise in your day, though perhaps not fully in 
mine, ‘Which shall rule — wealth or man ; which shall lead — 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


298 

money or intellect; who shall fill public stations— educated 
and patriotic free men, or the feudal serfs of corporate capital 
This was the authentic voice of the West, and wholly justified 
in its prophecy. Diffused power, as we have learned over and 
over again in our politics and legislation, counts for little. It 
is concentrated pressure that counts, whether exerted by a 
railroad lobby, a trust, or an Anti-Saloon League, and the con- 
centration of certain capitalistic interests in vast corporate 
form undeniably brought new problems into our national life. 

Two things were of supreme importance to the West. One 
was transportation and the other payment of debts. The day 
of driving a wagon from the farm to the market town over a 
road free for all had gone forever. The horse was now a loco- 
motive ; the wagon was a long line of freight cars ; the market 
town was the world at large. One might as well burn the 
farmer’s crops as deny him fair play in transportation costs. 
Every new country which needs development faster than capi- 
tal can be accumulated locally must go heavily into debt. 
This has been true of every one of our frontiers except Cali- 
fornia. If, during the existence of the debt, a fluctuation in 
the purchasing power of the currency in which payment is de- 
manded increases the purchasing power of money, it is equiva- 
lent in the eyes of the debtor to an increase in his debt, an increase 
made by him involuntarily. 1/ it takes two dollars to buy a 
bushel of wheat, a farmer can pay a one-thousand-dollar debt 
by selling five hundred bushels, but if the value of the currency 
rises so that one dollar will buy a bushel, then the farmer will 
have to sell twice as much to pay the debt. No Western uni- 
versity may have boasted a chair of economics, but every farmer 
had firmly grasped this simple proposition. If the “money 
power” did not play fair in selling transportation or if it seemed 
to do anything to make money less “cheap,” it would certainly 
hear from the farmers. 

In the matter of the railways, it did not play fair. In the 
early years of our railway age, the abuses were flagrant and 
both the small business man and the farmer suffered. Al- 
though the roads could invoke the right to run their lines across 


THE END OF THE FRONTIER 


299 


a farmer’s fields, although the government had granted them 
130,000,000 acres of the people’s land and tens of millions of 
dollars of the people’s money, they were regarded by their 
owners as mere private investments untinged by public use. 
They had in many cases been dishonestly built, and, when built, 
their stocks had been outrageously watered. In less than two 
years after 1867, one group alone increased its share capital 
from ^287,000,000 to over 1400,000,000, on which it claimed 
the right to earn dividends. The rates charged were both 
exorbitant and discriminatory. In 1869, with wheat selling 
at 76 cents in the East, it cost the Western farmer over 52 cents 
for transportation, leaving him only about 24 cents for his risk 
and labor. The railways could also make or break sections 
and businesses. The early rise of the Rockefeller fortune, for 
example, was notorious in this respect. Not only did the rail- 
roads carry his oil for less than they charged his competitors, 
but in one case, where they charged him 10 cents and his com- 
petitors 35, they even went further and paid to him the 25 cents 
extra they charged his competitors ! 

At first the West tried to remedy the situation not-by found- 
ing a political party but through a voluntary organization called 
the Patrons of Husbandry, commonly known as “the Grange,” 
which by 1873 had a membership of 1,600,000. Through the 
influence of the “Grangers,” laws were passed in some of the 
Western States establishing railway rates and in other ways 
attempting to curb the abuses. The capitalists claimed that 
the foundations of property were being undermined and did 
their best to make the Grangers out as enemies of law, order, 
and society, dangerous cranks. When Minnesota passed its 
law regulating rates, the president of the Chicago, Milwaukee 
and St. Paul had the effrontery to write to the Governor that 
the company would disregard the laws until the courts had 
passed upon them. The courts did pass on them, all the way 
up to the Supreme Court of the United States, and upheld them. 
It was admitted that private property was not supreme, that 
the people had their rights as well as capital, and in 1887 Con- 
gress passed the Interstate Commerce Act. The Western 


300 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


movement was a turning point in governmental policy. Less 
spectacularly than the political uprisings under Jefferson and 
Jackson, the people had scored. The doctrine was Western, 
and sound as wheat. 

The West had other grievances, such as the misuse of grain 
elevators, and high interest rates, — running up to 15 and 20 
per cent, — but the chief of these was the alteration of the 
money in which the farmer was expected to repay his debts. 
During the war, specie payments had been suspended and the 
government had issued paper money. The West had borrowed 
its money payable in “dollars," and when in 1866, in the laud- 
able desire of returning to a sound currency basis. Congress 
authorized the cancellation of $4,000,000 in “greenbacks," or 
paper money, a month, and the currency began to appreciate, 
the West felt it was being used unjustly in being called upon 
to pay its debts in dollars of increasing value. It was on this 
point that the West went wrong, tragically wrong, as it was 
later to prove, for it ruined the party of protest that the nation 
has bitterly needed. 

It was necessary for the government to return to a gold basis, 
which it did in 1879, but it was also true that the steady ad- 
vance of the dollar to par in gold wrought great hardship to all 
such classes everywhere, notably in the West, as had incurred 
debt during the period of depreciation. On the other hand, 
the depreciation had also wrought great damage among the 
creditors, small as well as big, while it was progressing. It was 
part of the cost of the war, of every war, just as much as taxa- 
tion; but, unlike equitable taxation, its incidence was not 
spread evenly over the population, and its injustice seemed 
obvious to whichever class successively suffered from it. In 
1868, both the Democratic and Republican parties split along 
more or less sectional lines between • sound money and the 
“ cheap money " heresy. In 1 874, a convention was held from 
which later emerged the National Greenback Party of the 
Presidential campaign of 1876. However, this party accom- 
plished nothing, and with the gradual return of prosperity the 
issue temporarily lapsed. 


THE END OF THE FRONTIER 



The year 1876 was notable in many respects. In celebra- 
tion of the centenary of the Declaration of Independence, a 
World’s Fair was held in Philadelphia, which gave both foreign 
nations and our own citizens an opportunity to take stock of 
our achievements in many lines. If in some respects the ex- 
hibits of our machinery and inventive skill were the most no- 
table, our advance in other directions was also worthy of note. 
It was still the Victorian-Civil War period of execrable taste 
in architecture and interior decorating, but in painting we 
already had works to show by such men as La Farge, Winslow 
Homer, Alden Weir, Thomas Moran, and other contemporaries, 
as well as our earlier Peales, Copleys, Stuarts, and other eight- 
eenth-century men. Over three million visitors, scarcely any 
of whom had ever been in Europe, had the chance to see some- 
thing of the products of other countries. Being held, as it was, 
on so important a centenary in our history and within a few 
months of the complete reestablishment of the Union by the 
reinstatement of the last seceded State, it greatly helped to 
deepen the sentiments both of Union and of nationality, and 
although it was but one factor, "we may date a very genuine 
advance in our cultural life from the early part of this decade. 
Under such men as Charles W. Eliot of Harvard, James Mc- 
Cosh of Princeton, Daniel Coit Gilman of Johns Hopkins (which 
was opened for instruction in 1876), our university life emerged 
from the high-school stage, and the new colleges for women 
were Beginning a revolution in feminine outlook. 

It was also in this year that democracy, just a century old, 
was put to a severe test from which it issued triumphant. The 
scandals of the Grant regime in national politics, and the general 
stench which arose from most of our municipalities, had at last 
begun to arouse the nation to a sense of shame, and the Demo- 
cratic Party had an exceptional chance to return to power. 
The alarmed Republicans nominated an honest but rather color- 
less candidate in Rutherford B. Hayes of Ohio, and the Demo- 
crats put forward Samuel J. Tilden, a statesman with an ad- 
mirable record for reform. The contest was close, and with 
some frauds on both sides. It was at first accepted as certain 


302 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


that Tilden was elected, and the announcement was so made 
in all the papers next morning. Two sets of returns, however, 
came from Oregon, and a slight change in Florida, Louisiana, 
and South Carolina would swing the election to Hayes. In that 
immediate post-war period there were few, if any, reputable 
Southerners who would vote the Republican ticket, for obvious 
reasons, but there were the disreputable ones and the negroes 
to count on. Tilden ’s popular majority over his opponent had 
been a quarter of a million, and when the people awoke to the 
fact that the Republicans intended to claim the victory popular 
indignation rose to a high pitch. An Electoral Commission 
was appointed by Congress to pass on the returns from the 
four disputed States, and after many weeks, during which the 
country was held in suspense, it made its report, the decision 
having been taken on strict party lines, giving all four States to 
the Republicans. The careful studies which have been made 
of the episode long after the heat of the battle had passed 
indicate that Tilden was deprived of his rightful election as 
President. 

With magnanimity and a high sense of patriotism, however, 
Tilden acquiesced, and requested his followers to do so, in the 
announcement of Hayes’s election made on March 2, 1877, 
only two days before one or the other would have to be inau- 
gurated. Considering the magnitude of the fraud, and the 
depth of passion aroused, this peaceful acquiescence of a ma- 
jority of the nation in the forms of law and their refusal fb pre- 
cipitate any further strife constituted a landmark not only in 
our own history but in that of self-governing democracies. The 
Civil War had proved that the great democracy could preserve 
its Union against disintegration ; the Hayes-Tilden election 
proved that it could maintain self-control under enormous 
provocation. The following year the ^ew York Civil Serv- 
ice Reform Association was formed, and slowly a higher ideal 
of public service began again to be developed. 

The issue of slavery and the Union, which had brought about 
the birth of the Republican Party, was now dead, and new issues 
had not crystallized. As has been well said, the struggle be- 


THE END OF THE FRONTIER 


303 


tween the parties now degenerated for a while into nothing more 
stimulating than the contest of rival railroads for traffic. The 
election of 1880, in which the Republicans were again success- 
ful, raised no issues and decided none. In 1884, the Demo- 
crats under Grover Cleveland came into power for the first time 
since the war, but the new President, with absolute honesty 
and a bulldog courage, managed to antagonize many interests. 
His desire to reduce the tariff made enemies of the protected 
manufacturers and others; his nullification of illegal leases of 
Western lands, by which he restored fifty million acres to the 
people, irritated strong cattle interests; his vetoing of pen- 
sions bills, which had become a national scandal, antagonized 
all those who had hoped to feed at the public trough; his un- 
successful effort to stop the free coinage of silver made enemies 
of the silver kings; his yielding to the irresistible pressure of 
Democratic politicians for the spoils of office after twenty-eight 
years in the wilderness alienated the reformers. In 1889 the 
Republicans returned to the White House with Benjamin 
Harrison. 

By 1890, a profound change liad occurred in our conditions 
which was to usher in for the next few generations problems of 
a wholly different sort, though not immediately noticeable. 
The Census Report of that year pointed to the fact that the 
frontier had by then disappeared. “The unsettled area,” it 
stated, “has been so broken into by isolated bodies of settle- 
ment that there can hardly be said to be a frontier line.” Un- 
less we have been in error throughout this book in ascribing 
potent influence to the factor of the frontier in our development 
of national life, thought, and character, this disappearance of 
our frontier line would obviously dose one era and open another 
for the nation. 

Now and then a new* and dynamic idea has been introduced 
into our conceptions of the historic process, such, for example, 
as that of the influence of climate and general geographic en- 
vironment or of the economic interpretation. The tendency 
at first is to make such ideas explain too much. Such was the 
idea of the frontier as first given to us by Professor Frederick 


304 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


J. Turner, which, with the possible exception of the economic 
interpretation of all history, has caused more reconsideration 
of American development than any other single suggestion. 

It is quite obvious that no single factor, neither climate, 
terrain, economics, religion, the frontier, nor any other, is 
all-important in influence; and I have in the course of this 
volume ventured to suggest that, because the frontier does not 
bring about the same reactions with other races and in all other 
places as it brought about in the United States, we must there- 
fore allow for other factors as well. The frontier is no complete 
explanation, but it has assuredly been a most important ele- 
ment. We have had not merely one frontier to be settled 
before an older civilization became established, but such a suc- 
cession of them as might almost be numbered by hundreds. 
We can check the factors involved in one and the influences 
radiating from it by comparing them with those in a continuous 
succession of others. It seems to be incontrovertible that the 
frontier has exerted much the influence on our life which has 
been noted thus far in this volume. 

Recently a distinguished historian has minimized the im- 
portance of the end of the frontier by stating that he does not 
find that it made any difference in the “fundamental rhythm 
of American life,” a somewhat vague phrase. He adds that in 
fact the frontier did not come to an end, as the government 
stated, claiming that the number of acres taken out under the 
Homestead Act since 1890 greatly exceed the number patented 
before. He admits that his figures are misleading, as they take 
no account of the railroad or State grants. How misleading 
they are is indicated by the fact that the railroad grants were 
130,000,000 acres and the State grants probably several tens 
of millions more. This goes far toward invalidating his argu- 
ment, but what he apparently fails to see, when he speaks of the 
large amount of land taken up after 1890 and even of the “cheap 
abandoned farm lands in the East and the South that go begging 
for buyers,” is that such lands do not constitute a “frontier.” 
The genuine frontier was not merely a staked claim to a farm ; 
it was a state of mind and a golden opportunity. The men 


THE END OF THE FRONTIER 


305 


and women who trekked westward, advancing the edge of civili- 
zation from over the Alleghanies across the three thousand miles 
of continent^ — empty, except for Indians — to the Pacific, 
came under influences entirely different from those of a man of 
to-day who, tired of being a laborer or clerk, tries the experi- 
ment of buying an abandoned farm on some New England hill- 
side within easy reach of the village and the whole of modern 
American civilized life. The latter has none of that feeling 
of vast open space, of pushing ahead of the van of older civiliza- 
tions, of empire building, of a freer and better chance, of a more 
democratic ordering of his society, of the possibility of rapidly 
rising in a new community, or of the opportunities which 
come with the development of a wholly new country where 
cities may spring up almost overnight and make him rich and 
a leading citizen in wealth or political power. To take up a 
bit of land to-day, East, South, or West, is for the most part 
simply to change one’s residence or perhaps one’s occupation. 
It is to become an ordinary farmer, not to share in a great 
adventure of State building and to have golden dreams of a 
possible future if one has the luck to strike it right. The psy- 
chological conditions are wholly different. 

If the influence of the frontier has been what most historians 
now consider it to have been, then, from the time of its passing, 
we can look for a slow but gradual change in American life. 
When “going West” ceased to be a great adventure shared 
by thousands all the time, a sort of mass movement led by 
dreams, and became a mere solitary venturing for a better job 
or a better piece of land somewhere else, evidently a great 
incentive would be removed. For a century and more, our 
successive “Wests” had dominated the thoughts of the poor, 
the restless, the discontented, the ambitious, as they had those 
of business expansionists and statesmen. With the establish- 
ment of full State government everywhere, with — speaking 
broadly — a more or less uniform life throughout the country, 
with increasing centralization of population and industrializa- 
tion of our people, the character of our problems and thought 
would naturally come in time to be different. The influences 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


306 

of the frontier would steadily decrease in power and we should 
come under those of altered conditions of living and outlook. 

For a century and a half we had been occupied in conquering 
and exploiting a continent, and by 1890 the task was complete. 
It had been an adventure of youth. Now it was over. There 
were plenty of empty spaces left to be filled, chinks in the struc- 
ture, but the country was ours, peopled, bound together, polit- 
ically organized from coast to coast. Henceforth the work 
would be one of consolidation rather than expansion. The 
problems would be those of ruling a vast population with diver- 
gent interests, not of organizing new States; the economic and 
social problems of the new world era of machinery and the con- 
flicts between capital and labor ; the problems of world markets 
and world contacts; the supreme problem of whether a Jef- 
fersonian democracy could survive in a Hamiltonian economy. 

The day was passing when the people could simplify their 
problems and escape from an environment too perplexing or 
too inimical by the simple process of going West. The day 
was coming when,East or West, they would have to stand and 
face the issues with no escape* by a mere shift of ground. Per- 
haps that was one of the most far-reaching results of the pass- 
ing of the frontier. Our intensified problems would henceforth 
permit of no escape. America began to near the day when she 
could no longer be vaguely optipistic and youthfully buoyant. 
She would have in time to become maturely self-critical and 
thoughtful. She would have to face all the issues courageously 
and with no easy avenue of escape to the “great empty spaces.” 
Those might take care of a little surplus population or become 
playgrounds when we came to enjoy Nature instead of exploit- 
ing her. But they were no longer a solution of our problems, 
no longer dreams to relieve the sick bed of injustice or discon- 
tent. The colt had been roped and ihrown. Thereafter he 
would have to get used to the harness of a complex civiliza- 
tion. It would take a long time, but a generation in the life- 
time of a nation is short, and the most important change in 
direction in our history had occurred, almost unnoticed at the 
moment. 



THE FLAG OUTRUNS THE CONSTITUTION 

In the continuous process which’We call history, it is all too 
easy to point to specific dates and to speak of “ turning points” 
when in fact all that happens flows from what has been into 
what is to be, with a lack of sharp divisions which is annoying 
to the chronicler but true to all living processes. When in 
1890 the Census Bureau announced the fact that the frontier 
was ended as a dynamic factor in our life under the conditions 
with which we had been familiar for two and a half centuries, 
it merely called attention to a particular stage reached in what 
had been a long evolution. Successive frontiers had been 
established and ended, more territory acquired and more 
frontiers begun and ended, for many generations. We had 
stretched the process from the Atlantic to the Pacific in a 
broad band which was now bounded on the North by the 
dominions of a powerful European Empire and on the South 
by a settled nation which held no offer of a frontier condition. 
Just as we had been a long time reaching this stage in our 
development, so would the effects of our altered condition be a 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


308 

long time working themselves out completely. It would be 
absurd to expect that, because the Census Bureau made its 
announcement in 1890, we must expect great changes by 1891. 

The end had not suddenly come overnight, nor would all 
its effects be apparent next morning. Moreover, we must 
be careful not to make the mistake of thinking that world 
tendencies localized in one country require too localized expla- 
nations. Other nations felt the impact of the Industrial Rev- 
olution, the problems of the machine age, the trend toward 
urbanization, the vast increases in population due to the in- 
dustrialization of society, and the resultant urge to 'ar^^ver- 
seas possessions and imperialism in politics and trarS, \q 
Nevertheless, I think it reasonably clear that all 'i| iark#*^*^ 
other factors were modified in our country, both in ci^ 
and in the matter of time, first by the existcKCC ari»,orny. 
by the ending of the frontier. The point is so importantheir 
I may be forgiven for emphasizing it. Although, for a ctj or 1 

of centuries and more, pioneering had inculcated upon u^Jay jgM 

unusual versatility aiaj^nventiveness, and although Amer^p 
lead all nations in th^^tudness for, one might almost?j-t<*/^ 
worship of, machinery orQujsorts, it is well accepted that 
we did not feel the full effects of the Industrial Revolution 
until considerably later than Europe did. This was owing 
in large part to our free land,^to our agrarian economy, and 
to the much greater opportunity here as contrasted with 
England for the laboring man to lead a free life on «. farm 
instead of being forced into wage earning in factories. The full ji 
effect was thus delayed here until our population and domestic * 
market had become so vast as to offer exceptionally tempting 
chances for consolidation, power, and wealth on a vast scale. 
Moreover, the first great impact of an industrial era on our 
life came at a time when the old Americanism of the democratic 
ideal, the American dream that life should be made richer and 
fuller for everyone and opportunity remain open to all, had 
been kept alive by constant waves of thought and emotion 
flooding back from our successive frontiers. Industrialism 
was to encounter the mentality not of a people emerging from 


THE FLAG OUTRUNS THE CONSTITUTION 309 


-V 


feudalism, but of one emerging from the exceptionally free 
and optimistic life of the frontier. 

If we wished to be doctrinaire, we might try to estimate 
what effects would flow from the ending of the frontier experi- 
ence and from the closing of that avenue for the outpouring 
of the surplus energies of our restless and energetic population. 
There was yet, of course, free land to be had, but there were 
no more great empty States where settlers as they looked 
over the uninhabited wastes could picture in their imagina- 
tions a magic change into flourishing farms, villages, populous 
cities, arising within a few years by the efforts of the pioneers. 
There were no longer in imagination empires holding riches 
and opportunities for us and our children where only the Indian 
or the bison and the coyote roamed. The Han of the great 
westward trek was gone, gone like the Indian and the bison. 
We might expect, then, talking as doctrinaires and playing 
with our interpretation of conditions, that, irrespective of 
conditions in Europe, we should see a change in the type of 
our immigrants, that we should get fewer in proportion of the 
Germans, English, and Scandinavians who had come by the 
millions to build up the Western empire, and more of the types 
who would become wage earners in the seats of industrialism, 
men still motivated by the hope of bettering their position 
but without the dreams of the now-vanished “West.” We 
might also say that, with the passing of the frontier, the in- 
fluence of the democracy of that section, or that state of mind, 
would come to have less political effect on the nation as a 
whole. Again we might suggest that without the safety valve 
of Western empire building, and with increasing density of 
population, the conflict between capital and labor would 
probably become intensified as the evils of an industrial age 
were felt by a popula^tion singularly unprepared to lie down 
under them. Once more, we might say, somewhat cynically, 
that having lost our hunting ground for adventure, and having 
now seized and peopled all the continental land we could get, 
we should probably, like other nations, find some excuse for 
an imperialistic adventure overseas. 


310 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 

In point of fact, all these things came to pass within the 
decade we have to discuss in this chapter. Immigration did 
alter within the ten years for which the Census announcing the 
end of the frontier was prepared. The “West” which had 
won in each generation, under Jefferson, Jackson, and Lincoln, 
went down to defeat under Bryan ; the struggle between capital 
and labor became more bloody and fierce than it had been 
before or has been since ; and we went to war with a European 
nation, took her colonies, and became an imperial power 
stretching far into the Orient. 

I do not wish to be guilty of the fallacy of post hoc, ergo 
propter hoc. On the one hand, these are the things that we 
might reasonably have predicted from the gradual ending of 
the frontier influence- On the other hand, if we assume that 
the frontier had not ended, but that there had stretched on 
beyond to the westward another valley like the Mississippi to 
offer scope for a new agrarian empire, to consume our energies, 
to offer freedom and democracy, to open new frontiers, to 
afford space and adventure to untold millions more, I do not 
think that the things noted ad)ove would have happened. It 
would seem, therefore, as though we might take the ending 
of the frontier as one of the really great turning points in our 
history. Hereafter our problems would take different form 
and become much intensified as economic and social ones. 
If there were no diminution in our energies, we should, in 
time, be forced into the international life and complications 
of the world on a scale hitherto unknown. With huge cities 
springing from Hamiltonianism and with no longer a steadily 
expanding agrarian section to offset them, we should have to 
face the problem of how to reconcile our Jeffersonian philosophy 
of democracy with conditions steadily swinging further and 
further from Jefferson’s postulates, and with no hope of return. 

Like “or Man River,” the stream of our history flows cease- 
lessly on. He had seen it all ; he had known the day of the 
savages for untold ages before the white man came and "01’ 
Man River” took De Soto to his bosom in the dark of night; 
he had seen the Spanish explorer and the French priest and 


THE FLAG OUTRUNS THE CONSTITUTION 31 1 

voyageur ; he had seen the English hunter and trapper, the 
trader, and the farmer; he had borne their children’s ships 
and commerce; he had held the North and South together 
when they were locked in deadly hate and when the new rail- 
roads threatened to be more powerful than he ; he had flowed 
through forest and prairie, past log houses and Southern plan- 
tations ; and now our people had built great cities on his banks 
and a new time had come. He had heard the voices of all of 
us, his children, — missionaries, drunkards, trappers, miners, 
farmers, planters, savages, slaves, gamblers, roustabouts, 
millionaires, prostitutes, lovers, Presidents; English, Swedes, 
Germans, French, Irish, Hungarians, Czechs, Italians, Poles; 
Methodists, Catholics, Mennonites, Quakers, — all the in- 
finite variety of our America, and in the Great Valley held in 
his arms they had hoped the hopes and dreamed the dreams 
of the old America of Jefferson who had given “OP Man River” 
to the nation. What would he see in the new America, the 
America of the city, the machine, the trust, the incalculable 
fortunes, that was now forming ? 

■ # 

He must know sumpin’, but don’t say nothin’, 

He just keeps rollin’, 

He keeps on rollin’ along.^ 

The great middle section of the Valley had been settled to 
a great extent by Germans. Such cities as Cincinnati and 
Milwaukee were strongly German and the national flavor of 
the old French St. Louis had changed from one side of the 
Rhine to the other. For the most part, however, these new- 
comers had gone on the land and become substantial farmers, 
as had almost wholly the great swarms of Scandinavians who 
had swept over the Northwest and made a Scandinavian 
empire of Minnesota,, the Dakotas, and parts of other States, 
an empire which survives to-day and is slowly absorbing, in- 
stead of being absorbed by, the older Southern and Northern 
American stocks, while developing as sound an Americanism 

* Copyright 1927 by T. B. Harms Co., N. Y. (Reproduced by special permission 

of the copyright W-iiers.) 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


31a 

as exists anywhere on the continent. The end of the frontier, 
noted by the government in the decennial Census of 1890, 
had occurred between 1880 and that date. If we look at 
the two decades prior to that one, and at the two following it, 
we find that in the former the immigration from all parts of 
Europe other than the Northern and Western made up less 
than 5 per cent of the total. In the two decades following 
1890, Eastern and Southern Europe provided over 60 per cent 
of the total. Between i860 and 1880 less than 250,000 Eastern 
and Southern Europeans came to us; between 1890 and 1910 
they numbered over 8,000,000. 

These Slavs, Poles, Hungarians, Greeks, Italians, Russians, 
Lithuanians, Jews, and others, representing many races and 
their blends, were of a very different type from the Irish, 
British, Germans, and Scandinavians. It was not merely 
that about 35 per cent of them were illiterate as compared 
with only 3 per cent of the earlier immigration. With our 
American worship of “book education,” we can easily lay 
too great stress on mere literacy. But these people were 
much more “foreign” in their background and outlook than 
those who had come previously, and less easily assimilable to 
our social life and institutions. The earlier European immi- 
gration continued after 1890, though in decreasing numbers, 
and took up unoccupied lands in the West, but with each 
decade this addition to our population formed numerically a 
smaller proportion of the whole. On the other hand, the more 
“alien” immigration of the new races rose rapidly to 6,225,000 
in the decade 1900-1910, and the influence on our national 
life was keenly felt. Although to a considerable extent these 
newcomers were peasants who had lived on the soil in their 
native countries, when they arrived here they did not seek to 
become farmers and to establish home? in the country, but 
congregated in huge racial groups in the larger cities, or became 
operatives in factories and mines outside of the great centres. 

There were various reasons for this phenomenon, which 
seems to have puzzled some writers. We may suggest for one 
that these people at home had to a great extent been more 


THE FLAG OUTRUNS THE CONSTITUTION 313 

dependent upon the simpler social groups of family, church, 
and village than had the British, Germans, and Scandinavians. 
They were more dependent upon close group solidarity than 
were the former, in a land where they felt, and were made 
to feel, more alien than the earlier races. Again, although 
various factors combined in Europe to foster the emigration 
thence, perhaps the chief one in starting this different migra- 
tion to the New World was the demand by the new great 
industrial corporations here for cheap and ignorant labor 
which might prove more docile than the restive American 
laboring man, and more helpless. Importation of foreign 
labor was the answer of the industrial capitalists to the demands 
of native labor, just as had been the use of the Irish a half 
century and more earlier on a smaller scale. At first, large 
numbers of these new immigrants were brought in under 
contract and taken straight from the steamer to work in some 
industry. In 189a occurred the great Homestead strike of 
the men in the Carnegie Steel plants. Within fifteen years, 
by 1907, 75 per cent of the workmen in this great American 
industry were foreign born. By about the same year the 
coal mines of Pennsylvania were being operated by a similar 
percentage of Southern and Eastern European immigrants. 
Apart from labor contracts, other newcomers of the same 
races would tend to concentrate where there were already 
colonies of their nationals who spoke the same language and 
formed one of those social groups upon which these aliens were 
dependent. 

There was also another important factor in the situation 
that made these European peasants turn operatives or city 
dwellers in America. Unlike the earlier immigrants, they did 
not come with the intention of remaining permanently. Large 
numbers of them expected to stay a few years, accumulate 
a little money, and then return to their own lands with more 
capital and a better position than when they had left. All 
those who came with this intention would naturally not wish 
to assume the responsibility of getting and working a farm, 
but preferred to accept day wages, maintain their old low 


314 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


standard of living, and even go below that, to save as much 
money as possible in a short time and to keep themselves 
free from entanglements so that they might return as soon as 
the happy day dawned when the size of their savings bank 
account permitted. The earlier immigrants had come to 
make homes, raise their standard of living, and become citizens ; 
these new ones came as birds of passage, quite willing to lower 
their standard temporarily in order to raise it when they got 
home again in Poland or Hungary or Italy. 

This also kept them from the desire to assimilate themselves 
to American social life, to learn English, and to adapt them- 
selves to American ways. As a matter of fact, although great 
numbers did return home after a few years, they often found 
themselves out of adjustment there also, owing to their Ameri- 
can experiences. After New York, Pittsburgh, or Chicago, even 
in their worst phases, as these people experienced them, it was 
too much of a wrench to settle down again in their native 
villages as peasants. Many did not try the experiment, and, 
of those who did, many returned here. The whole emigrant 
movement became more and 'more mobile. But those who 
returned here, and those who came for the first time, sought 
out their own social groups, which had become rather definitely 
established as workmen in mines and cities rather than as 
members of agricultural communities. The problems of great 
slums and of unassimilable racial groups often numbering sev- 
eral hundred thousand in a single place had come upon us, 
thanks, to a great extent, to the shortsighted selfishness of the 
great industrial employers who cared only for cheap and 
“manageable” labor. It is needless to say that this vast 
floating mass made the maintenance of a fair wage much more 
difficult for the native workman, who had already inaugurated 
the period of the greater strikes in an effort to get his reasonable 
share of the profits of industry, even before this stream of 
immigration rose to its highest flood. In time these new 
laborers, who had neither gone home nor become assimilated 
to America, would come to demand their share, and the diffi- 
culty would thus be increased again. The earlier demand for 


THE FLAG OUTRUNS THE CONSTITUTION 315 

slave labor had left us with the free-negro problem. This later 
demand for cheap white labor left us with another racial prob- 
lem, although one somewhat less serious, since, after a generation 
or two, these people can be absorbed, whereas the negro cannot. 

When the first Astor died in 1848, the $20,000,000 fortune 
left by him was a milestone in American financial and social 
history. When “Commodore” Vanderbilt died in 1877, 1^6 
left $105,000,000, and when his son died eight years later his 
inheritance had grown to $200,000,000, and he had boasted 
that he was the richest man in the world. We do not have to 
think of Vanderbilt’s most quoted remark, “The public be 
damned,” to realize that none of these men, nor most of those 
who at that time were laying the foundations of the great 
inherited American fortunes, ever for a moment thought in 
terms of social or national welfare. Occasionally a multi- 
millionaire would compound with his conscience or attempt 
to placate public sentiment by leaving some of his money 
after his death, when he could no longer enjoy it, to a charitable 
purpose. Even the rascally Daniel Drew founded a theological 
seminary in his will. But for the most part these early finan- 
cial conquistadores were as ruthlessly unsocial in their activities 
as any pirate who ever trod a bloody quarter-deck. 

The rapidly rising figures for fortunes which could be and 
were being accumulated, however, marked the faster tempo 
of life and acquisition. Not seldom their owners, at death, 
were ’perniciously held up by newspapers and clergymen as 
models for ambitious American youth. They did indeed 
have to have daring and courage, as does a pirate or a bootleg 
king, as well as ruthlessness. What gave them the chance 
to operate upon their new scale was the increasing size of the 
nation itself — the railroad system, the domestic market, the 
natural resources, and ^the vast population of ordinary citizens 
with their necessities and desires. The tools with which they 
worked were corporations, the tariflF, the stock market, special 
privileges in railway rates, corrupted legislatures, controlled 
banks, and the rest of the machinery of the new economic age. 
Money was power, and control over all these tools grew rapidly 


316 THE EPIC OF AMERICA 

with the increasing wealth and power of individuals, groups, 
or industries. One does not have to be either a communist 
or a socialist to recognize the enormous possibilities for evil 
inherent in our system, and the need for control if we are to 
stave off the different evils of socialism and communism. 

In 1888, for the first time a national campaign for President 
was fought mainly on the tariff as an issue, and two years later, 
under the successful candidate, Harrison, the McKinley Bill 
was passed by Congress, raising the average duties to about 
50 per cent. Of course, it was said to be necessary, to maintain 
the high standard of living of the American workman ; but 
as the employers were fighting tooth and nail against the trade- 
unions, and were willing to import the new immigrant labor to 
reduce wages, this could not be taken quite seriously. There 
were in that year about 4,250,000 wage earners in America, 
and th« multitude of farmers in the South and West, who were 
not sharing in the prosperity of the manufacturers. There was 
a very deep feeling of unrest throughout the country and a 
growing opposition to trusts, for fear lest they should monopo- 
lize business and the sale of the necessities of life into their 
own hands, and control the lives of ordinary small citizens. 
In the same year that Congress served up the McKinley Bill 
for the protected manufacturers, it threw a sop to the discon- 
tented in the form of the celebrated Sherman Anti-Trust Act, 
which was supposed to make illegal the evils complained of 
by the people, but which was so drawn as to mean verydittle 
until interpreted by the courts. 

The ordinary American unfortunately had never been very 
much offended by corruption. As we have seen, in a land that 
was, emotionally at any rate, believed to be overflowing with 
opportunity, and in which the under dog of one day might 
become top dog the next, in which the %cale of values had to a 
considerable extent become materialized, and ethical concepts 
of business blurred, no one cared much whether or not someone 
else “got away” with something shady, provided that the field 
of opportunity were still left open. For a long time the West 
had seemed to keep it open, no matter what was being done. 


THE FLAG OUTRUNS THE CONSTITUTION 317 

But things were changing. The wave of prosperity which 
had begun in 1879, and which had shut off Western discontent 
for a while, had spent itself by 1884, when a panic occurred 
and carried down the house of Grant and Ward, in which the 
ex-President was a partner. Things picked up a bit afterward 
for a few years, but by 1890 the farmer was in serious trouble 
again from prices. Roughly, from 1873 to 1893 we were in a 
period of deflation and of falling production of gold, with a 
more or less steady fall in prices and rising value of gold cur- 
rency, which had brought about the discontent noted in the last 
chapter. But there was more to it than that, though the fact 
of the usual approximate twenty-year cycle in business should 
be kept in mind. 

By 1890, opportunity no longer seemed to be limitless. In 
this respect the psychological effect of the end of the frontier 
was probably important. If one wanted to plod as a farmer, 
one could yet go West and take up a quarter section, but the 
old freedom was gone, and the mirage of a city arising at any 
crossroad. Small farming in itself was merely the making of 
a hard living ; it was not boundless opportunity. 

Moreover, the farmers had begun to see that they were not 
getting a square deal. The fact was that the change in the 
life of the nation, and the weight of numbers and influence, 
were beginning to tell against them. In 1790, nine tenths 
of the population had been farmers, and the farmer was listened 
to. In 1890, only three tenths were farmers, and it was the 
other seven tenths who were being listened to. In 1850, farm 
wealth was over half the nation’s total; in 1890, it was but a 
quarter. Around 1890, everything appeared to be conspiring 
against the farmer — nature, in a series of droughts and other 
disasters ; sound economic theory, which had caused the burden 
of debt to become unbearably heavy by the appreciation of 
sound money ; the great corporations, by their discriminations 
and high charges ; the declining gold production, which, with 
world over-production, was lowering the prices for farm prod- 
uce to levels which would soon spell disaster. The droughts 
continued in parts of the West for nearly ten years, and the 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


318 

annual production of corn in Kansas and Nebraska alone 
declined from over 287,000,000 bushels in 1885 to 110,500,000 
in 1889. By 1890, farm mortgages had increased to the 
astounding figure of $1,086,000,000, and there were whole 
Western counties in which 90 per cent of all farm lands were 
under heavy mortgage. Owing to falling prices, the cost of 
raising wheat and corn became actually greater than the 
amounts received for it. In Kansas over ii,ooo mortgages 
were foreclosed in four years, and by 1895 between 75 per cent 
and 90 per cent of the land in fifteen counties of that State 
taken for examination had passed from the owners into the 
possession of loan companies. 

The passage of the McKinley tariff in 1890 had seemed the 
last straw to the suffering agricultural part of the nation, and 
in 1892 the Democrats won, reelecting Cleveland as President 
for four stormy years. In the same year that the Republicans 
had passed the tariff and the Anti-Trust Act, they had also 
passed an act providing for the purchase by the government of 
4,500,000 ounces of silver bullion each month, issuing for it 
legal-tender Treasury notes'payable in either silver or gold. 
McKinley himself was a free-silver man, but the Party must 
assume responsibility for this measure. The business cycle 
had just about come to its full round, and the over-speculation 
in part of the country’s business and the bad basic conditions 
in others would have precipitated a crisis in any case; but the 
Republican Silver Act brought it about almost as soon as 
Cleveland was installed. Between 1890 and 1893, the silver 
dollar had dropped in comparison with gold from eighty to 
sixty cents. By means of the Treasury notes which the Re- 
publicans had created, business men could take silver certifi- 
cates to the Treasury, exchange them for Treasury notes, and 
then demand gold in exchange for them, putting in approxi- 
mately sixty cents and drawing out a dollar- As Cleveland 
said, “an endless chain” had been set in motion to drain all 
the gold out of the United States Treasury. 

The chain operated. The $100,000,000 gold reserve began 
to dwindle, and panic seized the entire country as repudiation 


THE FLAG OUTRUNS THE CONSTITUTION 319 

faced the government. The Free-Silverites in Congress tried 
to prevent any remedial legislation, although they were forced 
to consent to the repeal of the silver purchasing clause of the 
Sherman Act in 1893. Cleveland assumed the responsibility 
of acting under an almost forgotten statute, sold bonds on 
four occasions, and staved off a breakdown of government 
credit. By doing so, and especially by the terms of one of the 
sales which was made through J. P. Morgan and Company, he 
aroused intense opposition among the Free Silver wing of his 
party, which was mostly in the West. By securing the passage 
of an income-tax measure he alienated the capitalists, and by 
his handling of the Pullman strike he likewise lost support 
among labor. 

The hard times had brought much suffering to the wage 
earners, and in 1892, under Cleveland’s predecessor, Harrison, 
there had been a great strike at the Carnegie Steel Works at 
Homestead, Pennsylvania, the men demanding a revision of 
the wage scale and recognition of their union. Steel was 
heavily protected in the tariff on the plea of protection of the 
American workingman, but the sfeel plants have been consist- 
ent opponents of the unions, and the demands were rejected. 
Three hundred Pinkerton detectives were engaged to guard 
the works, and a clash occurred with the men in which ten 
were killed and sixty wounded. .. With the aid of eight thousand 
State troops the strike was won for the company. At the 
same time, President Harrison was ordering Federal troops to 
suppress a strike of miners in the Cceur d’Alene district in 
Idaho. 

There were numerous strikes in 1894 after the panic, involv- 
ing about three quarters of a million workmen, the most serious 
being at the Pullman plant in Chicago after Cleveland became 
President. Pullman had built a so-called “model village” 
in which he housed his workmen, and then cut wages so low 
as to leave them nothing above the rents which he demanded. 
The American Railway Union supported the striking Pullman 
men by refusing to haul trains with Pullman cars attached. 
The railway magnates refused to consider arbitration. For the 


300 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


first time in our history in a labor dispute, the government 
secured a blanket injunction against interfering with the move- 
ment of the trains. Governor Altgeld of Illinois had ample 
State troops ready for emergency, but he himself was greatly 
disliked by capital because of legislation which he had secured 
and because he had pardoned certain men involved in the 
Haymarket bomb affair in 1886, though it is now known they 
were innocent. As the Governor refused to comply with the 
Federal government’s wish to maintain rail service by use of 
Federal troops, Cleveland, under cover of protecting the mails, 
sent two thousand troops to Chicago, the Governor claiming 
that, if the President could order troops into a State to obey 
his orders against those of the State authorities, constitutional 
government had broken down. The men lost the strike. 
Cleveland’s wish had been to preserve law and order as he 
saw it, but he had played into the hands of the railway mana- 
gers, and by the use of the injunction had involved the courts 
in labor disputes. As we shall presently note, they had also 
become involved in another way. 

Although we can see nov 5 that by the end of Cleveland’s 
administration the trade cycle would have run its course, and, 
aided by an unpredictable increase in the world’s output of 
gold, prosperity would have returned with a rush, the misery 
into which the panic of 1893 h%d plunged the country, and the 
new contest between organized capital and labor, brought 
about the last political conflict between the West and the East, 
between agrarianism and industrialism. 

Neither the American farmer nor the American workman 
has been a radical as that term is understood in Europe. In- 
deed, as we look back at the issues for which they fought at 
various times in the second half of the nineteenth century, 
we see that for the most part they were essentially conservative. 
The terror aroused among the larger capitalists and by them 
transmitted to the smaller business men seems difficult to 
understand if it was genuine. What the larger capitalist 
feared, in fact, was the loss of one iota of his steadily increasing 
control over government and the means of piling up colossal 


THE FLAG OUTRUNS THE CONSTITUTION 321 

wealth. The contest was not at all one between capitalists 
and socialists or communists, but between classes both of 
whom were firmly committed to a belief in capitalism. It 
was between the big men and the little men, the grasper after 
excessive wealth and power and the man who demanded 
merely opportunity to make his living and live his life. 

It was a conflict as old as the American Constitution — 
indeed, as the American Revolution. In the propaganda 
of the Revolution and the Declaration of Independence, the 
common man had been cajoled to fight by being told that he 
was very much more important and capable than the leaders 
really believed him to be. The Constitution, which had been 
a compromise in so much else, had also been a compromise in 
this. It had, for example, never been intended that the people 
at large should choose a President, a choice so unnatural to 
the conservatives of that day that, as Colonel Mason of Virginia 
said in the Convention, they considered "it would be to refer 
a trial of colors to a blind man.” “Mankind when they are 
left to themselves,” Washington had commented, “are unfit 
for their own government.” 

Little by little the common man successfully claimed for 
himself the position designated to him in the Declaration, 
There is nothing harder to maintain for long in human affairs 
than a nicely adjusted balance. Speaking of government, 
Hamilton had said, “Give all the power to the many and they 
will opj^ress the few. Give all the power to the few and they 
will oppress the many. Both ought, therefore, to have the 
power, that each may defend itself against the other.” From 
the beginning there had never been such a perfect balance, 
but gradually the many had been gaining, especially in the 
three epochs following Western invasion under Jefferson, 
Jackson, and Lincoln. Dn each occasion the conservatives 
had feared for their control, and with that for their opportuni- 
ties to do as they liked and were accustomed to doing. It had 
seemed to take about a generation each time for the pent-up 
forces of democracy to seek an outlet in political action, and 
the time had now again arrived. The movement seemed to 


322 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


be as periodic as the business cycle. So far as the democratic 
movement was linked with economic ills and sufferings, this 
is easily understood, but it was always much more than that. 
A steady working out of the doctrines of the Declaration of 
Independence to their conclusions had always gone hand in 
hand with the problems of prices and the mortgage on the farm. 
Economic ills were also suffered by the growing class of wage 
earners, but the larger significance of each revolt lay in what 
was in the minds of the farmers, the defenders of the beliefs of 
their cultural ancestors. 

The West and South had been growing more and more 
restive. Over and above the economic grievances which 
threatened their existence were larger issues of Americanism. 
It began to seem as though Hamilton’s second supposition 
were coming true: “Give all the power to the few and they 
will oppress the many.” The farmer and workman had had 
their several experiences with banks, money lenders, political 
parties, corporations. The general life of the nation seemed, in 
spite of elections, to be rapidly passing into the control of a 
mysterious few operating behind the scenes. Wisconsin was 
described at this time as being “ruled by a handful of men who 
had destroyed every vestige of democracy in the community. 
They settled in private conference practically all the nomina- 
tions for important offices, cpntrolled conventions, dictated 
legislation, and had even sought to lay corrupt hands on the 
courts of justice.” • 

Apart from corruption, the courts, which were the last 
resort of the people, seemed to be wholly on the side of the 
capitalistic few. In case after case they had been building 
up a mass of decisions which had no regard to any interest of 
the nation except the strictest construction of the rights of 
property. In New York they had, prevented any effort to 
reform the sweating of labor in homes, and held up tenement- 
house improvement for twenty years. They had in various 
States prevented enactments dealing with hours of labor. 
In the case of Debs and the Chicago strike the Supreme Court 
had stretched the Constitution beyond the dreams of Hamilton 


THE FLAG OUTRUNS THE CONSTITUTION 323 

in order to keep Debs in jail ; although in 1880 it had upheld 
an income tax, in 1895, when Joseph Choate was calling such 
a tax “anarchy,” it had reversed itself and declared it uncon- 
stitutional; it had made the Sherman Anti-Trust Act almost- 
void by its ruling in the Whiskey case and by denying in the 
notorious Sugar Trust case that control of 98 per cent of an 
industry constituted restraint of trade, because “ manufactur- 
ing ” was not “ commerce.” 

In 1890 the Farmers’ Alliance in the West had elected three 
United States Senators and fifty members of the House, and in 
1892 the “People’s Party” was formed to unite the wage 
earners of the East with the Western and Southern farming 
elements. In the convention at Omaha, the “Populists,” 
as they were called, adopted a platform assailing the old parties 
and demanding free coinage of silver, a graduated income 
tax, government ownership of railways and telegraphs, shorter 
working hours for city laborers, the initiative and referen- 
dum, direct election of United States Senators, postal savings 
banks, restricted immigration, and the Australian ballot. The 
Farmers’ Alliance was trying to saVe the American dream, but 
a howl of rage and fear went up from the Eastern capitalists 
and all dependent on them. It is difficult to understand why, 
with the exception of the free-silver plank, the platform should 
have been construed as so subversive of civilization and prop- 
erty rights. There is nothing any more radical about govern- 
ment ownership of railways and telegraphs than there is about 
such ownership of canals and roads, and some conservative 
countries do own them. It is solely a question of efficiency 
and of number of officeholders. As for all the other planks 
named, every one of them has been subsequently enacted into 
our laws either by State or Federal statutes or by amendments 
to the Federal Constitution, and most of them under the bene- 
diction of the Republican Party, which assuredly cannot be 
called “radical.” 

This final revolt of the West must be considered in its 
entirety, and precisely as were the preceding and successful 
ones, as a genuine push along the line of democracy. It was 


3H 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


not an attack on property, but a demand that the rights of man 
should go hand in hand with the rights of property, lest prop- 
erty should cease to be a benefit and become a menace to the 
generality of men. 1 1 was all precisely in line wi th the specific 
contributions which every frontier, ever since there had been 
one, had been making to Americanism. Every such push 
had seemed dangerous and radical to those who had at each 
stage managed to get themselves a little more firmly entrenched 
in property rights than had their neighbors. As for the silver 
heresy, such financial heresies are the natural products of the 
debtor-frontier condition. It had been one of the grievances 
of the American colonies that England had prohibited them 
from printing as much paper money as they wanted when all 
the colonies were a frontier of empire. As the forms of “cheap 
money” alter, — paper money, bank notes, silver, — a debtor 
class can always be counted on to demand the cheapest. As 
the problem becomes more complex, its solution becomes more 
uncertain. 

For many years the silver-mine owners, whose particular 
form of capital on a large scale seemed to demand free silver, 
had been flooding the West with literature educating it to the 
silver form of the heresy. The West was not alone, however. 
Such Eastern minds as those of Henry .'\dams and the Presi- 
dent of Brown University shared the heresy, as did William 
McKinley, who was soon to appear as the standard bearer of 
the Republican Party in its assault on the dangerous radicalism 
of the West. In fact, it is by no means certain that the stage 
to-day may not be set for such a heresy to arise again. The 
average man in all our modern democracies is no more of a 
trained economist than our Westerners were in 1896. With 
the immense fall in the price of silver and the declining produc- 
tion of gold, which the League of Nations states will reach 
a crisis in 1940, with the world loaded with debts payable 
in the currency values of 1918 or so, with declining prices and 
trade, it may well be that we shall hear before 1940, or that 
we are already beginning to hear, of the demand for a new and 
more “scientific” basis for currency — that is, a cheaper 


OUTRUNS THE CONSTITUTION 325 

money to cause inflation for trade and make the payment of 
debts easier for the debtor. In a sense, Europe is to-day the 
new economic frontier of America. 

Before continuing the story of the final reflux of the frontier 
on American civilization, we must turn to glance at another 
aspect of our life in that period. Man is no more solely a crea- 
ture of economics than he is of politics. Religion and art have 
always been two of the mainsprings of his being, strange or 
crude as they sometimes have been. As we have seen, the 
budding colonial arts of the mid-eighteenth century had been 
blighted by the Revolution and the decades of preoccupation 
with material expansion over the West. In the 1830’s and 
1840’s there had been a sudden blooming in Massachusetts of 
the most distinguished local group we have had in American 
letters. None of these men, however, with the exception of 
Emerson, had glimpsed the real essence of Americanism and its 
dream of democracy. Hawthorne had harked back to the 
problems of the early Puritan conscience and was a revenant 
from two centuries earlier, though he left us a classic of the 
Puritan heart. Longfellow wasAnerely a graceful professor- 
litterateur; Thoreau was less of a democrat than an impos- 
sibly extreme individualist ; Lowell, in spite of his chatter 
about democracy, never really understood the ordinary Ameri- 
can’s love of it and remained essentially the snob at bottom ; 
Whittier, though he gave us a classic of an American province 
in “Snow-Bound,” was too concerned with the problem of the 
slave, and like Lowell, who would have sacrificed the Union 
because of his dislike of the South, saw America too much in 
terms of a sectional evil. 

A little later, Whitman, as no one else before or after, caught 
a vision, so vast he could not master i t, of the whole of America 
and of its tumultuous democratic dreams. Great poetry, he 
claimed, was always the “result of a national spirit, and not 
the privilege of a polish’d and select few,” and he determined 
that “without yielding an inch the workingman and the work- 
ing woman were to be in my pages from first to last.” The 
Greeks had sung of their gods and the medieval poets of their 


326 THE EPIC OF AMERICA 

lords and ladies, but as he saw it “the justification and main 
purpose of these United States” were “plowing up in earnest 
the interminable average fallows of humanity.” Here at last 
was a clear attempt to put into winged and singing words the 
authentic American dream. America was not to be merely 
an old Europe in a cruder and less finished setting. Something 
new had come into being, the belief that something fine and 
noble, something higher than the world had ever seen, would be 
harvested from “plowing up in earnest the interminable aver- 
age fallows of humanity.” If America were to make any pe- 
culiar contribution to the history of the race and not be merely 
another nation in the endless rise and fall, it would be in forg- 
ing out something new and uncommon from the common man. 
The selfish leader of industry, using the masses to accumulate 
his private millions, could not see it. The “statesman,” grown 
cynical in deals and committees and caucuses, could not see it. 
The comfortable scholar of European tradition could not see 
it. It had come into being from the wedlock of the common 
man and the frontier, a marriage consummated over and over 
again in our history. The brood born from those who dreamed 
the dream grew and increased. But there would be nothing 
in the dream unless the new life for the common man could be 
made uncommon, unless out of the womb of democracy could 
come forth beauty of art and living that should fill the spirit 
with gladness and make the daily round of living something 
more than a perpetual subduing of the soul’s wildernfess for 
material purposes as we had subdued the wilderness of the 
continent. 

Little by little, it seemed to be nearing us. In spite of all 
the shoddiness and bad taste of the eighties and nineties, the 
latter decade marked the highest point we have touched in the 
illustration of magazines for popular circulation. Abbey, Pen- 
nell, Crane, Frost, and others were illustrators who would have 
been notable in any country. Novelists and story-tellers no 
longer went abroad for their subjects, but a whole multiple 
group — Joaquin Miller, Bret Harte, James Lane Allen, Joel 
Chandler Harris, Mary Wilkins Freeman, Sarah Orne Jewett, 


THE FLAG OUTRUNS THE CONSTITUTION 327 

George W. Cable, Lafcadio Hearn, Mary N. Murfree, and 
others formed the “local color school” in our literary his- 
tory and painted the local scenes of New England, Virginia, 
Louisiana, Kentucky, the Far West, until the American reader 
came to reali2e the infinite variety in our national unity. Per- 
haps the most lasting of those named, from a literary stand- 
point, was the New Englander, Miss Jewett, and it is notable 
that she painted for that section a society that was essentially 
static and calm, one that suffered no more from the tumult of 
American life and uneasy dreaming. On the other hand, the 
greatest of all came from the West, a young pilot on a Missis- 
sippi River steamboat who assumed for his pseudonym the 
pilot’s call in taking his soundings, “ Mark Twain,” Tom Saw- 
yer, Huckleberry Finn, sjxS Innocents Abroad were redolent of 
the American life and outlook of the ordinary man. Some- 
thing new had come from the waters of “OF Man River.” 

And in the Great Valley something new was suddenly to 
arise, to dazzle us all for a few months and then to disappear, 
like a magic city from Aladdin’s lamp. It had been four hun- 
dred years since the island savage in the West Indies had 
watched with mingled fear and curiosity the landing of the 
white stranger and the unfurling of the ensign of Spain. Four 
short centuries, and now the continent from shore to shore was 
occupied by nearly 65,000,000 f>eople of all races. Times were 
hard and getting worse, but we decided to invite the nations to 
join with us in celebrating that momentous landing of Colum- 
bus on the beach of that little island in the Bahamas. We 
planned the World’s Fair at Chicago. Our sculptors, archi- 
tects, landscape gardeners, painters, and others united, and when 
in 1893 the world came, it was to hold its breath for a moment 
in amazement at a vision of beauty which has rarely been 
equaled. Compared with it the Paris Exposition of 1900 was 
an inchoate jumble of incongruous monstrosities. It was even 
more a revelation, possibly, to ourselves than to others. We 
had been busy apparently with exploiting our riches, with our 
contests between capital and labor, with our dirty politics, and 
with all the welter of a too fast growing material development. 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


328 

and yet men among ourselves had produced this city of dreams, 
shimmering beside the lake where only a few generations earlier 
there had been nothing but the savages and a few traders in 
furs. It had risen like a dream and was as transient. In a 
few months the buildings were torn down and the “White City” 
evaporated as magically as it had grown. 

It is true that the architecture and composition were classical 
and not distinctively American, but the great point was that a 
democracy apparently wholly immersed in making livings or 
fortunes could suddenly fling up this thing of beauty for the 
world; and the millions who went to see it from little New 
England farms, from small homes in great ugly industrial cities, 
from shabby towns in the South and raw ones in the West, 
caught for the first time a vision of what might be such as they 
had never conceived. In the city which had hitherto been 
noted chiefly for the stockyard brutality of its business, this 
thing of form and loveliness had come and gone, a flashing 
glimpse of what might lie hidden in the inchoate vastness of 
our common-man democracy, as one might glimpse a diamond 
through the heavy enclosing niatrix of rough and common stone. 
As it vanishes, we turn again to the daily round. 

In some ways it was a new West and a new South which 
drew up in the battle for democracy against the East in 1896. 
It was a West which needed far more capital than the earlier 
ones, for farm machinery cost money and the modern farmer 
had to be something of a capitalist himself, and at every turn 
he found himself fighting a corporation — railroad, bank, farm- 
machine manufacturer, or what not — which was without 
human form and which seemed to be almost beyond human 
reach. The cinch bug, the grasshopper, the refractory soil, 
the Indian, and most of the other enemies of earlier days had 
been reachable, but who could reach these corporations which 
were everywhere and yet nowhere, which covered their tracks 
in bought legislatures, courts, charters, and interpretations of 
the Constitution protecting property ? 

The^ South also was facing new conditions. At the Cotton 
Exposition at Atlanta in 1881, a few of the weavers had come 


THE FLAG OUTRUNS THE CONSTITUTION 329 

down from the Appalachian Mountains and showed their hand 
looms by which a weaver working ten hours a day could weave 
eight yards of cloth. The machinery of the modern mills, which 
was also exhibited, could produce eight hundred yards per 
human tender in the same time, or a hundredfold. And the 
mills had been producing too fast. There was world over- 
production, and the planters found that cotton was no longer 
king. For a decade they were in sore straits to pay the annual 
loans made to raise their crops. Neither West nor South was 
any longer wholly agrarian. There were great commercial 
and industrial cities in the West, and the smoking chimneys of 
the ironworks at Birmingham and other signs showed the be- 
ginning industrialization of the South. 

The East also had changed. The steady industrialization of 
that section had gone on and vast accumulations of wealth were 
now dependent on government favors and special privileges. 
The Supreme Court had been deciding questions wholly in 
favor of the great corporations, and in the Debs case had even 
asserted that in the absence of statutes it had the power to pre- 
vent interference with interstate commerce, an unexpected 
stretching of the Constitution which brought profound satis- 
faction to entrenched wealth. The tariff, which had not only 
protected “infant industries” but made possible the earning 
of colossal returns upon real and watered capital, had been ex- 
tended to heights undreamed of by Clay in his “American Sys- 
tem.”* The East, in a word, had come to lay tremendous stress 
not simply upon the protection of property rights under law, 
as contrasted with the rights of man, but upon what it had 
gradually come to consider its vested rights in governmental 
favoritism. At every turn, in one way and another, its wealth 
was more and more coming to depend on legislation and gov- 
ernmental action of various sorts. The McKinley tariff of 
1890 had resulted in the return of the Democrats in 1892, and 
the following year the Democratic tariff bill had both lowered 
duties somewhat and included the nightmare of the income tax. 
The moneyed interests of the East were determined that their 
hold should not be relaxed again if they could help it. 


33 ° 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


In each rising in the past, there had been some impossibie 
notions mixed in with the sound democratic doctrines and striv- 
ings. Economic life had become far more complex, however, 
and the issue of free silver, following so soon on the experience 
under Cleveland of the “endless chain” drain on gold be- 
queathed to him by the Republicans, frightened the entire 
creditor class, and properly. As a result both of that and of 
manipulation, free silver soon loomed up as the major issue of 
the campaign in 1896. The boss of the Republican Party, 
Marcus A. Hanna, a wealthy capitalist from Ohio, dictated 
the nomination of his proteg 4 McKinley (who was under heavy 
financial obligations to him of an honest sort) for President on 
the Republican ticket. His election would ensure, as far as 
might be, a tariff satisfactory to the East, but unfortunately 
he was a free-silver man. However, he had good precedent 
for changing a religion to gain a crown, and when nominated 
he accepted the plank in the platform which demanded the 
preservation of the gold standard. The Populists merged 
with the Democrats, and with Bryan as leader came out for 
the free coinage of silver at the fixed ratio of sixteen to 
one. The silver question, which had cut sharply across party 
lines, as in the case of McKinley himself, caused a split 
in both major parties, the pro-silver Republicans passing to 
the Democrats, and the gold Democrats nominating a separate 
ticket. Even the Prohibitionists split and put gold and silver 
candidates in the field. The Populists had merged wtirh the 
Democrats only with the greatest reluctance, feeling that the 
real questions in the campaign other than that of silver were 
being completely overshadowed. 

McKinley had stated a few days after his nomination that 
the tariff was the issue, that the money question was becoming 
unduly prominent, and that in thirty days no one would hear 
of it. In fact, however, in less than that time one heard noth- 
ing else. The East and the moneyed interests everywhere 
were whipped to fren2y by terror. I well recall the members 
of the Stock Exchange marching in a body up Broadway, and 
the general sense of untold horrors overhanging the whole coun- 


THE FLAG OUTRUNS THE CONSTITUTION 331 

try if Bryan were elected. I have never known another such 
wave of emotion catching up whole communities, not even our 
entry into the Great War or Armistice Day. Bryan, in his 
famous but not extempore Gross of Gold speech, had not only 
stampeded the Democratic Convention, but made the gold 
issue the only one in the campaign that was heard of at all. 

An honest man of extremely limited mind, Bryan cannot for 
an instant be considered in the same category as the three 
men — Jefferson, Jackson, and Lincoln — who had led the 
common people in the earlier revolts, but he made a colossal 
impression. The Republican moneybags were bulging, the 
great corporations pouring out contributions at the nod of 
Hanna, whereas the Democrats had nothing. According to 
Mrs. Henry Cabot Lodge, writing at the time, the McKinley 
forces had $7,000,000 against Bryan’s $300,000. “The great 
fight is won,” she wrote to Cecil Spring-Rice after the election. 
It was a fight, she added, “conducted by trained and experi- 
enced and organized forces, with both hands full of money, 
with the full power of the press — and of prestige — on one 
side; on the other, a disorganized mob at first, out of which 
burst into sight, hearing, and force — one man, but such a man ! 
Alone, penniless, without backing, without money, with scarce 
a paper, without speakers, that man fought such a fight that 
even those in the East can call him a Crusader, an inspired 
fanatic — a prophet! It has been marvelous. Hampered 
by such a following, such a platform, — and even the men 
whose names were our greatest weapon against him deserted 
him and left him to fight alone, — he almost won. . . . We 
had during the last week of the campaign 18,000 speakers on 
the Stump. He alone spoke for his party, but speeches which 
spoke to the intelligence and hearts of the people, and with 
a capital P. It is over now, but the vote is seven millions to 
six millions and a half.^ “When a man polls as many votes 
as he has received for the Presidency, I suppose there must be 
something in him,” remarked Whitelaw Reid less lyrically. Or 
in the cause for which he stood, we may add. If the man could 
elicit such comments on the day of victory from such hide- 


332 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


bound Republicans as Mrs. Lodge and Mr. Reid, there must 
have been, we might say, a good deal all around in spite of the 
limited mentality of Bryan himself. 

The campaign issue was simplified for the average Republi- 
can voter, who cared little about the great network of vested in- 
terests working behind the scenes for purposes of their own, but 
everything for the safety of his own property and job or business, 
which was in jeopardy from free silver. No one who recalls 
the campaign in the East can forget the grisly fear that peeped 
from every ballot box that November day in 1896. For the 
Democratic voter the issue was only in part that of silver. It is 
true that he considered it a panacea for many of his ills and 
that Bryan unduly stressed it, but the wave of frantic emotion 
which swept over the West and South was of the same sort 
which had swept them in earlier uprisings. Gold was only 
the symbol of a power which the common man felt to be stran- 
gling both him and his Americanism, his dream of democracy 
and of the rights of man against the claims of privilege. To con- 
sider that the Southern and Western farmers who had their 
all invested in that most inconvertible of all forms of property, 
farm lands and implements, wished to attack the rights of prop- 
erty is absurd. What they were demanding was the right to 
enjoy and employ their property as independent citizens, getting 
only a square deal from those who had other forms of property. 
Their monetary theory was wrong, but so was that of Henry 
Adams, President Andrews of Brown University, and of a good 
many conservative Easterners, as well as of the Republican can- 
didate himself, McKinley, That was neither here nor there. 
What did matter for those in revolt, and matter to the bottom 
of their hearts, was that the money power and corporations — 

“ the interests,” as they were beginning to be called — should not 
conquer and ruin America for the ordyiary everyday common 
man. The demand was valid and just, and if the intelligence 
of the nation could spare only a Bryan to lead them, the reflec- 
tion was rather on the nation’s intelligence than on them. 
Mrs. Lodge, womanlike, could see only the individual and not 
the issue. Reid, like a certain type of capitalist, could see 


THE FLAG OUTRUNS THE CONSTITUTION 333 

only the politician and not the people. What none heard was 
the voice of the American, of the American farmer who had 
stood behind the stone walls as the redcoats retreated from 
Lexington and who took pot shots at them, of the farmer who 
had gone to the Connecticut River, and then to western New 
York, and then to Ohio, and then to Illinois, and then to Kan- 
sas, or followed the same western trek in the South ; the voice 
of the early Americans who had been promised “life, liberty, 
and the pursuit of happiness” by Thomas Jefferson while the 
conservatives of his day raised their eyebrows and smiled 
questioningly . 

It had been the frontier of each succeeding epoch from which 
that voice had always risen most clearly and emphatically. 
When the forces of each generation had accumulated to the 
bursting point, it had been heard and listened to. But in 1 890 
the government had noted briefly that the frontier was ended. 
In 1 896, for the first time, a revolt of the frontier failed. Some- 
thing had gone out of American life. Something new had en- 
trenched itself against attack. In the East, when the news 
was known the morning after electton, there was wild jubilation. 

In the West, “OF Man River” rolled sombrely to the Gulf. 
Yes, the East was right on gold and sound currency, as it had 
always been except in the earliest days when it itself was Eng- 
land’s “West,” and it had been heretical, but there was so 
much more than that. This dream that “OF Man River” had 
heard his children dreaming for so long, this dream that at last 
man was to be worth more than gold, what was to become of 
that ? What of that boy “ Mark Twain,” who had known and 
understood him so well and done so much, and then had gone 
East, bitten, to make a fortune like others, and who was now 
struggling with bankruptcy and Shylock creditors ? What of 
it all ? Across the Gulf in Mexico, Spaniards had come long 
ago for gold, and more gold. But “OF Man River’s” children 
had dreamed of better things as well. Was it only a dream 
after all ? Could they not be satisfied with the gold of mines and 
forests and fields and honest commerce without digging it from 
the souls of men ? And “OF Man River” rolled on to the Gulf, 


334 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


In spite of the fact that the Republicans had been elected 
by the terror of a repudiation of the gold standard, they waited 
three years and a half before passing any legislation on the sub- 
ject, — in the Currency Act of 1900, — but immediately on 
election McKinley announced that he would call Congress in 
special session to raise the tariff. The bill presented by Con- 
gressman Dingley, in accordance with the mandates of the 
manufacturers, passed the House after a purely perfunctory 
debate of a fortnight in spite of the protests of such men as 
Worthington C. Ford, chief of the Bureau of Statistics, as to 
its economic unsoundness. The people, having been panicked 
by the bogie of the currency, were rewarded for their votes with 
an increase in the cost of living. As Mr. Ford said, many of 
the new rates were not merely protective but prohibitive, and 
the new tariff had emphasized a change in policy from re- 
venue with incidental protection to protection with incidental 
revenue. 

At the entrance to the Gulf of Mexico, only a hundred miles 
due south from the tip of Florida, lay the large and rich island 
of Cuba, Still in the possession of Spain after four centuries. 
Its population was chiefly made up of Scotch, English, and 
American planters of sugar and coffee, of some pure-blood Span- 
iards, and of a great mass of mixed bloods compounded of Span- 
ish, negro, and Indian. On the one hand, there had been bad 
misrule by the Spaniards for many years. On the other, many 
of the Cuban revolutionists — who warred, from time t© time, 
in the worst South American fashion against the ruling power 
— were as corrupt as the Spaniards themselves. In 1895, one 
of the interminable revolutions was started again, and Spain 
named as Governor a “hard-boiled” army general, Weyler, 
who adopted an unstatesmanlike policy of repression. The 
sympathy of the American public — always sensitive, as we 
have noted, to the “under-dog complex'^” — was deeply aroused 
by the newspaper accounts of Weyler ’s atrocities. We have 
always felt, quite irrespective of local conditions and char- 
acteristics, that any and every people is not only entided to 
self-government, but capable of it — an altruistic and ideal-^ i 


THE FLAG OUTRUNS THE CONSTITUTION 335 


istic but extremely dangerous belief. As I watched the income 
account of a large sugar estate, in which I happened to have 
personal interest, being bled by bribes to the Spanish authori- 
ties on the one hand, and by yet heavier blackmail by the Cuban 
“patriots” on the other, to keep them from burning the sugar 
cane, - — sometimes ten thousand dollars at a time being paid 
to their representatives in the third-story back room of a build- 
ing in Front Street, New York, — the scales of injustice seemed 
to me somewhat more evenly weighted than they did to those 
who thought of the Cuban “patriots” in terms of our 1776. 

Affairs drifted on, and, partly in view of the strong American 
feeling toward the end of 1897, Spain promised home rule to 
Cuba and reform. Unfortunately we had sent a battleship, 
the Maine, to Havana harbor, and while at anchor there, on 
February 15, 1898, she was blown up by an explosion, the real 
cause of which has never yet been ascertained by the public. 
Spain immediately urged investigation by an impartial tribunal, 
and arbitration. We declined both, though we had always 
stood for arbitration of international disputes. An American 
investigating board announced oil March 28 that the ship had 
been blown up from the outside ; a Spanish board, which was 
not permitted to visit the ship and which had to judge from 
the outside, announced that she had been blown up by an in- 
ternal explosion. Subsequently the United States Government 
had her towed out to sea and sunk so deep that no commission 
will eVer be able to investigate her again. 

Inflamed by the yellow newspaper press led by Hearst, the 
public meanwhile had gone mad. Roosevelt, always bellicose, 
and then Assistant Secretary of the Navy, demanded that the 
Spaniards be driven from the New World. McKinley was for 
peace, but was weak and feared that he would disrupt the Re- 
publican Party and interfere with the smooth-running ma- 
chinery of tariff making and other interesting functions of gov- 
ernment if he tried to lead the country and stem the tide of 
insane jingoism. He noted a year later that if he had been 
left alone he could have secured the withdrawal of Spain from 
Cuba without a war. Presidents of the United States can 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


336 

hardly expect to “be left alone," but some of them have had 
the courage to stand alone and to lead, as did John Adams when 
he saved us from war with France. What McKinley said, 
however, was true enough. When he sent an ultimatum to 
Spain the day after the American commission reported that 
the Maine had been blown up from the outside (which, even 
if true, did not necessarily determine that it had been by the 
orders or connivance of the Spanish government), General 
Woodford, whom I happened to know and who was an honest 
man, cabled to McKinley within forty-eight hours that Spain 
knew Cuba was lost, that she was willing to let her go and do 
everything possible to placate the United States as rapidly as 
might be consistent with avoiding revolution in Spain itself. 
Shortly after that he cabled again that he could secure, before 
August I, the acquiescence of Spain in either the independence 
of Cuba or even the annexation of the island to the United 
States, and that Spain was loyally ready to make any conces- 
sion. The next day after receiving this cable, McKinley sent 
a message to Congress asking for a declaration of war. Per- 
haps he had been too deeply stung by Roosevelt’s remark that 
he “had no more backbone than a chocolate eclair," and so 
proved the positive in trying to prove the negative. 

Senator Lodge wrote to Roosevelt, who had contemplated 
the capture of the Philippines gix months earlier, that we in- 
tended to have Porto Rico and he thought that the adminis- 
tration was “now fully committed to the large policy 'which 
we both desire.” The frontier was closed, but Porto Rico and 
the Philippines, with a population of over ten millions and 
enormously rich natural resources, were good pickings. Con- 
gress, not mentioning these matters, promptly passed a self- 
denying ordinance announcing to the world that we had no 
intention “to exercise sovereignty, ji^risdiction, or control” 
over Cuba, and that after it had been pacified we would “leave 
the government and control of the island to its people,” a state- 
ment nullified by the insistence later on Cuba’s accepting the 
Platt Amendment which gave us coaling stations in the island 
for our navy, the right to intervene in her affairs for the pres- 


THE FLAG OUTRUNS THE CONSTITUTION 337 

ervatidn of order, and a veto over both the diplomatic and 
the fiscal relations of the Cuban government with any foreign 
power. Recently, in our dispute with the Cunard Line about 
running ships between New York and Havana, we took the 
ground that such business was our own “coastwise commerce.” 
Yet, when it comes to the tariff on sugar, Cuba is an independ- 
ent foreign State. It would appear to have been given its inde- 
pendence by us on rather anomalous terms, and would prob- 
ably have been far more independent had General Woodford 
secured that independence by negotiation, as he could have 
done, instead of McKinley’s securing it by war. But in that 
case we should not have got Porto Rico and the Philippines, 
Roosevelt would not have had the chance to take his “Rough 
Riders” for the “charge” on “San Juan Hill” and would 
likely not have been President, and many things would have 
been different for us as well as the Cubans. 

Of the war itself, not much needs to be said. The Spanish 
navy was old and in bad shape. Dewey became a national 
hero for a few months by defeating the part of the Spanish fleet 
in Manila Bay, and Admiral Cervera was defeated when he 
tried to make a dash out of the harbor of Santiago in Cuba. 
The land forces were easily overcome, and the whole affair was 
a picnic. Without counting the real odds, every victory was 
received with wild enthusiasm, tempered by the scandals of 
gross mismanagement in the army and the heavy toll of deaths 
by preVentable diseases. 

By the first of October, the peace commissioners were meet- 
ing in Paris to make the treaty which would end the affair. 
Cuba received her independence, the wings of which were to 
be clipped by our Congress two years later, and we took Porto 
Rico and the Philippines, paying Spain ^20,000,000 for the 
latter, or about two dollars apiece for each Filipino. When 
the Peace Treaty was presented to the Senate for ratification, 
much opposition had developed in the country to the annexa- 
tion of foreign territory inhabited by peoples who did not speak 
our language and who could not be assimilated to our insti- 
tutions. The treaty was ratified only after Senator Lodge had 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


338 

pointed out to his fellow Senators that it would be disgraceful 
not to ratify what the President had negotiated at Paris, an 
opinion which he was conveniently to forget on another occa- 
sion twenty years later when another President, Mr. Wilson, 
had also been negotiating at Paris. 

Most Americans had enjoyed the war immensely. There 
was no draft, there were only 223,000 volunteers in service out 
of a population of 76,000,000, and the casualties were slight. 
We overlooked the gross incompetence of the army chiefg and 
such trifles as that, owing to inferior rifles, it took 6500 Ameri- 
cans three hours to subdue 600 Spaniards at El Caney. Vic- 
tories seemed to come as easily as picking ripe strawberries, 
and we were amused at making Germany angry and pleased 
to have England, for the first time in our history, voluntarily 
come and stand by our side, as at Manila Bay when Admiral 
Chichester of the British fleet intimated to the German Admiral 
Diederich that he had best not interfere with Dewey. 

The spoils of the war, however, left us with new problems. 
In some respects, such as the efforts of Major Walter Reed and 
later of Major W. C. Gorga§, which completely exterminated 
the dreaded scourge of yellow fever, we accomplished a notable 
amount of good for all the new islands in our possession ; and 
our administration, though far from flawless, has on the whole 
been excellent and attended with good results. The Filipinos, 
however, seemed no more anxious to be governed by us than 
the Cubans had been to be governed by Spain, and an" insur- 
rection cost us more lives than the war itself. For the first 
time we glimpsed the fact that, even when people want to 
govern themselves, they may not be capable of it — when we 
want to govern 

Before these new acquisitions, we had seized only empty 
land, — for Indians never counted, — ^nd the land when filled 
with our own settlers could be carved up into Territories to 
become States. Possibly that could eventually be done with 
Porto Rico, but the Philippines were different. Did the Con- 
stitution apply to these ten millions or so of “little brown 
brothers,” as Mr. Taft called them ? Were the new posses- 


THE FLAG OUTRUNS THE CONSTITUTION 339 

sions part of the United States or not, and if not, what in the 
world were they ? 

As might hare been surmised, the question assumed an im- 
mediate practical aspect through the tariff. The American 
sugar producers demanded a tariff on imported sugars from 
the islands, but how could this be placed on them if they were 
part of ourselves? I understand that at present the inde- 
pendence of the Filipinos is being advocated so that this ques- 
tion can be settled satisfactorily to American producers and 
prohibitively for the Filipinos. It emerged at once in 1899. 
If we had had an unwritten and elastic constitution like the 
British, all might have been easy sailing; but we had a written 
document which had always to be interpreted with some dyna- 
mite to allow us to annex new territory, and which assuredly 
gave us no light at all on how it would allow us to govern ten 
million people who did not want us to govern them, whom we 
did not intend to make citizens, and whom we did so much want 
to tax. 

In 1901 the problem was passed on to the Supreme Court, 
and it was found, as Mr. Dooley s^id, that “no matter whether 
the Constitution follows the flag or not, th’ Supreme Court 
follows the illiction returns.” By a decision of five to four, 
even the five disagreeing among themselves as to the reasoning 
by which they had arrived at, their partial unanimity, it was 
decided for us that “Porto Rico is a territory appurtenant — 
but not a part — of the United States.” So that was that, and 
the rest followed. What we had we meant to keep, and we 
meant to do as we liked. Our new population was judicially 
declared to be neither American nor foreign, because, as Mr. 
Dooley also said, “ the flag was so lively no constitution could 
follow it and survive.” 

What interests us particularly here is that for a generation 
and more our political philosophy had been showing a marked 
divergence from that of the days of the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence and the drafting of the Constitution. The first major 
breakdown had come with the Civil War. It had always been 
an anomaly that, with our political philosophy asserting that 


340 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


government derives its just powers only from the consent of 
the governed, we had held three million slaves in subjection. 
It was stiU more of an anomaly that when five million or more 
white citizens no longer consented and withdrew we forcibly 
obliged them to return. And now we had taken on over a mil- 
lion in Porto Rico and about ten million in the Far East, and 
the latter, who had been bought for cash, so far from consent- 
ing, had staged an insurrection which had had to be put down 
with a very bloody hand. 

McKinley had been overwhelmingly reelected in 1900 with 
the Cuban War hero, Roosevelt, as Vice President, and the 
country had endorsed the war and the annexations, and the 
Supreme Court had had to rationalize 2. fait accompli. How 
difficult was the feat was shown by the fact that, as Mr. Justice 
Brown was parodied as saying, the decision was handed down 
by the nine justices, “dissenting fr’m me an’ each other.” 
They could do nought else ; but deep gashes in a national politi- 
cal philosophy or a constitution do not heal without leaving 
marked scars any more than they do in a man’s body. The 
old Americanism of the frontier had grown from belief that 
in the early days we had meant what we said when we 
announced that just government could only be by consent of 
the governed, and that aU citizens were entitled to certain 
rights. We had always had to shut one eye when we looked 
at the negro, and after 1865 we had had to shut it also when we 
looked at the South and those in it who objected to being “re- 
constructed.” We had had slaves, and we had had “rebels,” 
and now over 10 per cent of our population were “subjects.” 
It was getting a bit hard to maintain the fiction of the free man 
giving his free consent to a free government; and if that were 
no longer to be held by us as the one infallible political phi- 
losophy for freedom, might not the inroads on the old concep- 
tion extend yet further ? If the slaves were to do as the masters 
told them because they had the power, and the South were to do 
as the North said because had the power, and our islanders 
were to do as we said because we had the power, why should 
not the little citizen do as the big citizens and the corporations 


THE FLAG OUTRUNS THE CONSTITUTION 341 

said because Mo' had the power? Mr. Alexander Hamilton 
had evidently led us a long way ofF from Mr. Thomas Jefferson 
on his hilltop at Monticello. 

On March 2, 1901, Messrs. J. P. Morgan and Company an- 
nounced the formation of the United States Steel Corporation, 
and four weeks later stated that its amended capital would be 
^1,100,000,000. The “billion-dollar trust” had come. On 
September 6, President McKinley was shot by a mentally un- 
sound anarchist, and on his death, eight days later, Roosevelt 
became^ President of the United States and its “Insular 
Possessions.” 



XII 

THE AGE OF THE DINOSAURS 

In what is known, as the Jurassic period in the geological 
history of the earth, there suddenly developed in the course of 
animal evolution a vast number of huge reptiles which num- 
bered among their species the largest animals ever known, 
some of them fifty feet long or more. A fortuitous combination 
of evolutionary factors produced these new rulers of the sea, 
land, and air which by sheer bulk, physical strength, and 
weapons of offense seemed destined, once they had appeared, 
to dominate the world. They roamed the continent aeons 
before our story begins, and even now their fossilized skeletons 
in our museums, of terrifying size and with jaws filled with two 
hundred or more teeth, appall us. But nature proved that 
mere size was not a final factor in development, and somehow 
these colossal creatures failed in efficielicy and adjustment, and 
paissed from the scene. 

In the same way, in our own age, a combination of elements 
suddenly brought into existence in our social and economic 
world huge business combinations in the form of corporations 


THE AGE OF THE DINOSAURS 


343 


of a hitherto undreamed-of size, which seemed destined, like 
the dinosaurs of old, to rule the land. In bulk, strength, and 
weapons of offense it appeared that nothing could oppose them. 
Whether they also will develop weaknesses in efEciency and 
adjustment for which their mere bulk is no compensation, and 
disappear in their turn, is as yet an open question. It is prob- 
able that the dinosaurs passed because of lack of brain power. 
The difficulty of supplying our modern economic monsters 
with sufficient power of intellectual direction at the top has 
already become evident. Whatever the eventuaE outcome 
may be, it became clear to the smaller but intelligent and life- 
loving individuals when these new colossi suddenly rose among 
them that there was a fight to be waged for all that they had 
felt made life worth living. 

The United States Steel Corporation was merely the greatest 
among the new economic monsters. A conservative estimate 
in 1904 showed that 5300 formerly distinct plants had been 
combined into 318 trusts with a capital of $7,246,000,000, 
whereas another estimate placed the capital of a larger number 
of combinations at over $20,006,000,000. While these com- 
binations were being effected in the industrial world, similar 
ones, eliminating competition, were going forward in railroads. 
Yet more menacing was the concentration of power proceeding 
in the banking world, which eyen the conservative, capitalistic 
Wall Street Journal described in 1903 as “not merely a normal 
growth, but concentration that comes from combination, con- 
solidation, and other methods employed to secure monopo- 
listic power. Not only this, but this concentration has not 
been along the lines of commercial banking. The great banks 
of concentration are in close alliance with financial interests 
intimately connected with promotion of immense enterprises, 
many of them being, largely speculative.” It added that the 
banking power was passing to the control of men who were 
less interested in legitimate banking than in stock promotion, 
watering, and manipulation. 

All of these new mammoths were controlled in the last 
analysis by an extremely small group of men, mostly in 


344 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


New York City. The members of the Morgan and Rockefeller 
groups together held 341 directorships in 112 banks, railroads, 
insurance and other corporations, having aggregate resources 
under their control of 122,245,000,000. In an after-dinner 
speech one of the group made the tactical mistake of declaring 
that it had been said that the business of the United States 
was then controlled by twelve men, of whom he was one, and 
that the statement was true. This remark, made among 
friends, was deleted from the printed report of the speech when 
given to the public, but the public was well enough aware of 
the general situation without such admission. Never before 
had such colossal power concentrated so rapidly into the hands 
of a few, whether we consider the resources and income at 
their command, the population affected by their orders and 
acts, or the millions of persons in their direct employ. 

Frequently uninteresting individually, collectively the study 
of the mentality of the new business leaders is extraordinarily 
interesting from a social point of view. Charles Francis Adams, 
who as president of the Union Pacific Railroad had known 
many of them well, wrote of fhem that he never cared to meet 
one again in this world or the next, “nor is one of them asso- 
ciated in my mind with the idea of humor, thought, or refine- 
ment. A set of mere money-getters and traders, they were 
essentially unattractive and uninteresting. The fact is that 
money-getting, like everything else, calls for a special aptitude 
and great concentration.” ' 

These men were far less crude than those of the William H. 
Vanderbilt, Jay Gould type of the preceding generation. 
For one thing, manners had improved in the nation at large, 
and for another, a type of corporation lawyer had developed 
which would have scorned to have clients resort to such 
spectacular rawness as Jay Gould’s printing press for “illegal” 
stock certificates, flight to New Jersey with his money, and the 
rest of the melodramatic incidents of the post-Civil War period. 
Whenever possible, the new hands were gloved. Moreover, 
that odd dichotomy of the mind of great American business 
men had begun to show itself on the grand scale. What they 


34S 


THE AGE OF THE DINOSAURS 

might do as men and what they might do as “business men” 
bore little moral relation to one another. A man might be a 
pirate in business and a beneficent god in bestowing gifts on 
his native village or on some pet charitable or educational 
institution. 

For example, one well-known Wall Street man who bore the 
nickname of “Hell Hound” in the financial world was wor- 
shiped by his native villagers and a few other beneficiaries of 
his golden drippings. Andrew Carnegie, who had fought his 
workmen’s reasonable demands for better living conditions 
and had replaced native American labor by foreign immigrants 
for the sake of more complete control over their destinies, had 
begun to distribute millions for his libraries, buying a cheap 
notoriety on terms so onerous that more than one town or city, 
including the one in which I happened to live, declined to 
accept the money in accordance with them. Even before he 
had sold his works to the United States Steel Corporation, 
his personal share of the profits had begun to amount to more 
than $25,000,000 annually. Rockefeller’s income was appar- 
ently much greater than that, *id he who had been ruthless 
in business also began to scatter largess among the people in 
his non-business hours. 

Perhaps the broadest and most constructive mind of the 
whole crowd was that of the el^der Morgan. One would venture 
to interfere with him only at the peril of one’s financial life, yet 
he could be singularly generous on occasion, as I have good 
reason to know. One day there was a money panic in Wall 
Street, and after rising to an interest rate of i per cent a day, 
or 365 per cent annually, money disappeared. There was none 
to be had on any terms even for the borrower with the most 
gilt-edged security. My father had to have $50,000 before 
three o’clock, or his firpi would fail. He could not get a dollar 
from any bank, though his collateral security was of the 
soundest. As a last resort he went with an introduction to 
Mr. Morgan, who was a total stranger, but who at once lent 
him the money. When on leaving, after an interview which 
had lasted scarcely two minutes, my father asked him what 


346 THE EPIC OF AMERICA 

the rate of interest would be, Morgan, without looking up from 
the papers to which he had already turned, replied gruffly, 
“Six per cent — Morgan and Company never charge more than 
that.” Morgan had not the slightest interest in my father, 
the failure of whose house would not have left a ripple on the 
stormy waters of Wall Street that day. The gesture was that 
of a monarch who reprieves an innocent man from death, and 
passes to other things. Morgan alone in that day made such 
gestures. As contrasted with him, many of the other “great” 
bankers, with whom I was occasionally mixed up in episodes 
as intimately personal as the above, had the souls of pushcart 
peddlers. 

Then there were the so-called “Empire Builders,” men of the 
type of Harriman and Hill, the railway magnates. Different 
in many respects as all these men were, they had certain traits 
in common. For one thing, there was the American idea 
already noted that there was somehow virtue in making money 
and “developing” the country as fast as possible, which had 
as its corollary the belief that the main point was to get a thing 
done regardless of how it was done or its larger social impli- 
cations. This had become a marked American characteristic, 
inherited from the frontier “get rich quick and develop fast” 
state of mind. It was as marked in Roosevelt, who fought the 
big business leaders, as it was^in those leaders themselves. 
We shall note later his grab of the Panama Canal Zone, but 
may quote here his alleged remark, when circumventing an 
Act of Congress in regard to the building of the canal, “Damn 
the law. I want the canal built.” That was precisely the 
spirit of the men who were ruling the world of business in 
America at the same period. 

With this spirit went an autocratic belief in their own right 
to rule the people, to develop the country when and where it 
suited their own convenience, by methods of their own choosing, 
and to prevent any interference of any sort with their own 
plans in a word, to become benevolent despots, if we grant 
them the courtesy use of the adjective. When, in the great 
coal strike of 190a, the men were striking against gross abuses 


THE AGE OF THE DINOSAURS 


347 


of power on the part of the owners, the spokesman of the latter, 
George F. Baer, declared, “The rights and interests of the 
laboring man will be protected and cared for, not by the labor 
agitators, but by the Christian men to whom God in His 
infinite wisdom has given the control of the property interests 
of this country, and upon the successful management of which 
so much depends.” Hamiltonianism had gone full circle to 
divine right; and the rights of man in the Declaration of 
Independence had collided with the new doctrine of the 
divinity that doth hedge a capitalist if he is big enough. To 
such men, the American dream was drivel. 

The Hamiltonian system had run completely amuck, having 
lost its balance wheel. But could the Jeffersonian one function 
any better ? What was left of that base of free farmers owning 
their own homes and lands on which Jefferson had rested it ? 
In 1900, our population was about 76,000,000. Of this num- 
ber, somewhat less than 5,000,000 were classed as farmers and 
planters; 2,550,000 as wage-earning farm hands; another 
2,550,000 as wage earners in domestic and personal service; 
over 3,000,000 in trade and * transportation ; and nearly 

19.000. 000 in manufacturing and mechanical pursuits. Over 

6.000. 000 persons over ten years of age were wholly illiterate, 
and more than half of these were not immigrants but native- 
born Americans. The comparatively simple social and govern- 
mental problems of 1787 had become so overwhelmingly com- 
plex that it is a question to-day whether we or any other nation 
are going to be able to solve them by intelligence or whether 
we shall become the victims of uncontrolled forces. In the 
early days men received a political education in town meetings, 
and most of their problems were close to their homes. By 1900, 
the organization of the political system had become such that 
it seemed to run with as little chance for the individual to 
influence it as the dynamo in a central power plant. 

The fact was, though we did not recognize it then and do not 
want to to-day, that the forces let loose by the Industrial 
Revolution and the age of applied science were causing new 
patterns to be made in the nations, patterns in which coopera- 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


348 

tion and socialization on a hitherto undreamed-of scale would 
have to replace to a great extent the old individualism of the 
eighteenth century and of that American frontier which had 
continued that century for us long after the calendar had 
proclaimed it ended. The American workman, the factory 
wage earner, the horde of salaried men in corporation employ, 
the farmer raising wheat in Kansas and selling it in London 
or Bombay in competition with Russia or the Argentine, the 
capitalist controlling billions of resources in enterprises that 
affected vitally the lives and happiness of millions of men, 
women, and children — all still dreamed of living the individ- 
ualistic lives of the colonial American farmer of New England 
or Virginia. Each group felt itself hampered by the others. 
When an Oregonian who wanted to develop the interior of his 
State found that a Harriman would allow no one to build a 
railroad into it until he got ready to do so himself, there was 
heated resentment against the power of the magnates. When 
the government stepped in, as in the dissolution of the North- 
ern Securities railway merger, the magnates would complain 
bitterly, as did Hill against Roosevelt, saying it was outrageous 
that the big business men should have to “fight for our lives 
against the political adventurers who have never done anything 
but pose and draw a salary.” 

Our training and education had not fitted us to solve the 
new problems. The folkways and life about us, which properly 
constitute a large part of training, had all been on the side of 
individualism, ruthless competition, money made quickly by 
any method, disregard of law and of the social results of individ- 
ual acts. We learned “patriotism,” but not good citizenship. 
As for our “book education,” Woodrow Wilson came close 
to the mark when he said, in 1907, “You know that with all 
our teaching we train nobody ; you know that with all our 
instructing we educate nobody.” Hamiltonianism was break- 
ing down because the powerful were trying to grasp all power. 
Jeffersonianism was breaking down because the nation was 
no longer composed of freemen and freeholders, competent 
to grapple with the problems of their social environment and 


THE AGE OF THE DINOSAURS 


349 


forces. Education, by which we had thought to keep the 
electorate competent for self-government, was breaking down 
because we had no scale of values and no real objective in our 
educational system. For the masses, at its best, it had become 
a confused jumble of “book learning” that gave them neither 
values to strive for nor that knowledge and intellectual training 
which might have been of help in unders tanding the complexity 
of the forces with which they had to deal intelligently. Yet 
the American dream was still cherished in millions of our 
hearts, not least among the common people of farm and factory 
and shop; and rightly so. What we needed was a leader with 
sympathies and understanding as broad as his vision might 
be keen. How deeply the people felt that need had been shown 
in their whole-hearted devotion to Bryan for his democracy 
and his belief in the American dream, in spite of his errors — 
intellectual, social, economic. 

The nation was still sectional in that the North, South, 
West, and Pacific Coast had each its own demands and types 
of life; but the frontier had gone, and the country was fast 
being integrated. Of the railway* kings, for example, Harriman 
ruled his Western system from New York, Hill his from 
Minnesota, and Huntington his from California. The prob- 
lems had become national as well as sectional. The most 
pressing of these was the conflict not so much between capital 
and labor as between the ordinary small American — whether 
laboreV, farmer, or small shopkeeper — and the new class of 
great magnates who had come to look upon the country as 
their personal property to be run according to their own ideas. 
Beyond the first ten or twenty millions which they accumulated 
for themselves, they were not so much lustful for money as 
for power and resources with which to “play the game.” It 
was much the same feejing that makes a boy’s heart throb as 
he races his car with another, at highly illegal speed and risk, 
and wins. Incidentally, as in the case of Harriman and his 
rehabilitation of the Union Pacific, they might perform serv- 
ices by which the whole community benefited. On the other 
hand, they might wreck properties, or, in their struggles occa- 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


350 

sionally against each other, destroy any number of smaller 
men. Meanwhile, through control of the great corporations, 
they controlled the destinies of millions of us. Many who had 
never heard the darkies singing in the South would have at 
once felt the sting in the words 

The old bee makes de honey-comb. 

The young bee makes de lioney ; 

Colored folks plant de cotton an’ corn, 

And de white folks gits de money. 

On every hand the ordinary American citizen was uneasy 
and looking about for leadership in the fight against “the 
trusts ” — which meant the apparently unreachable controls 
over his daily life and business. 

Suddenly the shot was fired in Buffalo which killed McKinley 
and made Roosevelt President. Reform was already in the 
air, but there was no national leader. La Follette had for 
years been doing fine work, but he was distrusted in the East 
as a demagogue and his strength was chiefly confined to the 
Northwest. Roosevelt was as yet something of an unknown 
quantity in spite of his career as Governor of New York, 
Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and in minor offices. He had 
been a reformer and had acquired popularity in the Spanish 
War. Born a New Yorker of mpderate wealth and good social 
position, he had spent much time on his ranch in Montana and 
had won his literary laurels by his Winning oj the West . ' 

It soon became evident that, although a party man, the new 
President intended to pursue his own policies and not to be 
ruled by the National Committee and its chairman. His 
first great opportunity came as a result of the Northwestern 
railway situation. The Harriman group, in control of the 
Union-Southern Pacific lines, angry begause they had not been 
allowed a half interest in the Burlington system by the Morgan- 
Hill group, made a gigantic play to capture the Northern 
Pacific (carrying a half interest in the Burlington) from their 
rivals by open purchase in the stock market. The dramatic 
story, culminating for the public in the Northern Pacific 


THE AGE OF THE DINOSAURS 


351 


corner and panic of May 9, 1901, when for a couple of hours 
half the firms in Wall Street were insolvent, is well known. 
The rivals decided to compromise, and from the negotiations 
the Northern Securities Company was born. 

Under the Anti-Trust Act, the lawyers considered it would 
be dangerously illegal to merge the competing Great Northern 
and Northern Pacific into one property, but evolved the idea 
that one owner could not be considered to be conspiring with 
himself. A holding company was formed in New Jersey with 
a capital of 1400,000,000 which bought by exchange of its 
stock the controlling interests of both lines, Harrim an hav- 
ing a large interest in the new company as well as control of 
the two Southern transcontinental roads. If this legal trick 
should prove successful, there was evidently nothing left to 
the Anti-Trust Act. 

The Northwest, which saw its two competing roads thus 
merged into one by a subterfuge, legal or not, was up in arms 
at once, and the excitement became intense by the end of 1901. 
The following March, Roosevelt having gone over the case with 
Attorney-General Knox, the government brought action for 
the dissolution of the merger, eventually winning its suit. 
Within a short time the President also succeeded in having 
an act passed by Cor ■ 'ess which gave priority in the courts to 
such cases against tn ; trusts^ and another forbidding unfair 
and discriminatory rebates by railroads to favored shippers. 
In February 1903, the Department of Commerce and Labor 
was organized, its head having a seat in the Cabinet with the 
duty of watching over the economic interests of the people 
at large. The ordinary small American citizen. East and 
West, felt that he had at last found a defender in the President, 
whose popularity became unbounded and who was overwhelm- 
ingly reelected in 1904. 

It was not only the Western farmer who was grateful for a 
new leader, but the laboring class in the East as well. In the 
same year in which the Northern Securities Company was 
sued, there occurred the great coal strike in the anthracite 
fields, under the able leadership of John Mitchell, which con- 


352 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


tinued for months without violence. By his fine character and 
great ability, Mitchell had won the devotion of the men, 
mostly foreigners, in the mines. It was in the course of this 
strike, bitterly fought by the owners, that Baer made the re- 
mark already quoted as to the rights of the workingman being 
cared for by the Christian men to whom God in His wisdom 
had given the property of the United States. In a ballad 
sung by the men we get the point of view of another sort of 
American. 

Now you know Mike Sokolosky — 

Dat man my brudder. ... 

Now me belong t’ union, me good citizen. 

For seven year, me livin’ here 
In dis beeg America. 

Me workin’ in de Prospect, % 

Workin’ Dorrance shaft, Conyngham, Nottingham * — 

Every place like dat. 

Workin’ in de gangway, workin’ in de breast. 

Labor every day, me never get a rest. 

Me got plenty money, nine hundred, maybe ten, 

So shtrike kin come, lik6 son of a gun — 

Me Johnny Mitchell man ! 

The owners, considering that God had given them their 
property, which they held in the form of great corporations, 
absolutely declined to employ fnen who dared to form them- 
selves into a union, to combine their own resources of. labor, 
which perhaps more rightly God might have been considered 
to have given them, into an organization for greater effectiveness 
to meet the corporations on more even terms. As the summer 
passed and autumn came, the deadlock continued. Public 
anxiety, with the winter coming on, was acute, and sympathy 
was largely with the miners, who were behaving well. Roose- 
velt had determined to send the army''into the fields and mine 
coal for the public, appointing a commission to consider the 
case if the owners continued obdurate. At last they yielded 
so far as to meet Mitchell with the President in the White 


1 Names of collieries. 



House. There the owners and the President became so angry 
at each other that nothing was aceomplished, Mitchell, as the 
President afterwards admitted, being “ the only one who kept 
his temper and his head,” but a fortnight later the owners 
yielded to public opinion and submitted the dispute to a com- 
mission, resuming work at the mines. 

In one way and another for the next four or five years public 
attention was continually occupied with the problem of “big 
business” in relation to the ordinary citizen. In 1904 Miss 
Tarbell published her History of the Standard Oil Company, 
which gave the people a sound, documented account of how 
that trust had acquired its power. Revelations of corporate 
misdoing came out from time to time in official inquiries and 
court proceedings. Disgusting scandals were laid bare in the 
investigation of the great insurance companies; it was found 
that the Standard Oil Company of Indiana was receiving 
rebates in spite of the new law; that the Sugar Trust, not 
content with its practical monopoly and high tariff, was 
deliberately swindling the government by paying duties on 
underweighing at its docks. NdVelists, journalists, and the 
new and cheaper magazines, all contributed their share to what 
came to be called “muckraking.” Although this tended to 
degenerate into mere scandalmongering, the revelations which 
were authentic served to aropse the public conscience and 
resentment. America for the first time was beginning to take 
stock of the morality of its everyday business life. Roosevelt, 
in speech and writing, hammered away at such simple but 
much needed topics as the “square deal” and business ethics. 
Slowly the people were getting genuine education, and reaching 
an adult point of view. It was as though our youth had gone 
with the frontier and we were growing up, taking a man's 
serious view of his worl^l, in which reality is no longer seen in 
the golden haze of inexperience. 

Ail this led us to understand our situation and condition 
better, but did not point the way to remedy. We began, 
however, to see somewhat more clearly that we should have 
to reckon with new forces. Mere “trust busting” was no 


354 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


solution. If was as sensible as it would have been aeons before 
to apply a tape measure to the dinosaurs after a decree that 
none should exceed five feet in length. A world in which a 
Kansas farmer shipped his wheat fifteen hundred miles by 
railroad and then three thousand by steamer, in accordance 
with prices quoted by cable, could not be run with the same 
instruments, political or economic, that had been adequate 
a couple of generations earlier when he drove his produce into 
town over five miles of dirt road that he and his neighbors 
kept in order. It would accomplish nothing simply to break 
up great corporations. A distinction began to be observed 
between “good” and “bad” trusts. On the other hand, the 
individual citizen was too powerless when faced by the new cor- 
porations with their millions or billions of resources and their 
power. ' Evidently it was to be either socialism, which has 
never made any wide appeal to us and at best is a most un- 
promising remedy, or use of our government to stand between 
us and the corporations in order to see that they helped and 
did not crush us. 

We began to follow this new path with such laws as the Pure 
Food Act and the Hepburn Act, both passed in 1906 . In the 
days when the housewife bought and prepared all the food used 
in a household, she could assume responsibility herself for its 
quality, but when our meat cajme from great slaughterhouses, 
and much else came in bottles and cans, she lost control of 
quality and purity. The government had to step in to secure 
both. In the same way, it had to step in, as it did in the 
Hepburn Act, to assure the shipper fair rates, the bill placing 
the power to make rates in the hands of the Interstate Com- 
merce Commission. The first of these new acts made every 
household, in the simplest way possible, feel itself under the 
protection of the Federal government.; the second made the 
magnates feel its power. The days of unrestricted individual- 
ism were fast passing. Even “01’ Man River” felt the new 
curb, and when the great dam at Keokuk was built he no longer 
flowed unchecked to the Gulf. 

With the closing of the frontier had come something of a 


THE AGE OF THE DINOSAURS 


355 


realization of the fact that our resources were not illimitable, 
and within a year after the announcement was made in 1890, 
Congress had authorized the Executive to withdraw forest 
lands from homestead entry. Up to the death of McKin- 
ley, nearly 47,000,000 acres had been withdrawn, but during 
Roosevelt’s terms that was increased to over 172,000,000, and 
a few weeks before leaving the Presidency he appointed a 
National Conservation Commission against the opposition of 
Congress. Minerals and water power were considered as well 
as forests, and the discussion of the questions involved brought 
forcibly before us the change that was coming from the old 
frontier ideals of quick exploitation and unregulated grabbing 
of every natural resource for personal gain. We did not want 
socialism, as popularly conceived with a big S, but we were 
learning that in the new world we should have to submit to 
social control of a more drastic sort than any to which the 
frontier would ever have yielded. It might involve some 
adjustment of our old American ideals of personal freedom 
to do what we liked, but it was still government of the people, 
by the people, for the people, and preferable to government 
by the few “Christian men” who considered that God had 
given them the country for a private club, and so we began 
to think in new terms and to get used to new ways. Efforts 
were made to frighten the nation with talk of anarchy. 
Socialism (big S), and communism, but it declined to be 
panicked. 

When in 1907, as a result of bad financing and worse banking, 
a glut of undigested securities brought on a real panic in Wall 
Street, the older type of capitalists, who had not seen the light, 
tried to make Roosevelt responsible in the eyes of the public. 
The President hurled back at them the epithet of “malefactors 
of great wealth” and stood his ground. Big business called 
on him to “let us alone^’ but it could not be let alone because 
it could not let us alone, but entered into our homes at every 
chink and cranny. The old pioneer who kept moving on into 
the wilderness so as never to have a neighbor nearer than ten 
miles away could cry, “Let me alone,” but the day of the 


356 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


frontier was past. Big business could not play the frontiers- 
man any longer in a forest where the trees were men. 

While this new orientation of our domestic problems had 
been proceeding, we had also begun to play a different part in 
the international world. Little as we were inclined to recog- 
nize the fact, our expanding commerce and the possessions 
we had gained in the Spanish War had made us a world power. 
The year following the Peace of Paris, we had been drawn into 
the Chinese situation of that period, and while John Hay was 
Secretary of State we had joined with the British to force on 
the not very willing Continental European powers concerned 
thedoctrine of“the open door” in China instead of a practical 
partition of that country. The next year our troops had joined 
those of other nations in putting down the Boxer Rebellion, but 
after receiving our share of the mercilessly large indemnity 
demanded of China, we returned 1,000,000 of it to the gov- 
ernment of that country, which applied it to the sending of Chi- 
nese students to America for education. Whether, with our 
idealism, we thus contributed to the too rapid Westernization 
of that country and its subsequent troubles, still in being, 
may be a question as open as John Hay’s “door.” 

In 1899 we had taken an active part in the formation of the 
Hague Tribunal for International Disputes, and in 1902, when 
England, Italy, and Germany had declared a blockade of 
Venezuela in an effort to collect certain claims, we suggested 
that the question be referred to the Tribunal for settlement. 
Germany refused until Roosevelt sent our entire American 
fleet under Dewey to “manoeuvre” in the Garibbean, when 
Germany accepted arbitration. Unfortunately, whatever pres- 
tige and friendliness might have accrued to us among our 
South American neighbors by our defense of Venezuela were 
quickly lost by Roosevelt’s treatment of Colombia. He was 
very keen to signalize his Presidency by the building of a canal 
across the Central American isthmus, and in 1902 Congress 
authorized $40,000,000 for the purchase of the old French De 
Lesseps syndicate’s rights in the canal which it had started 
to build, unsuccessfully, across the Colombian province of 


357 


THE .AGE OF THE DINOSAURS 

Panama, Congress stipulated, however, that Colombia would 
have to cede jurisdiction to the United States of the strip on 
which the canal was to be built. Through Hay, Roosevelt 
offered Colombia 1 10,000,000 cash and $ 100,000 a year for a 
hundred years’ lease of the strip, which Colombia was slow in 
accepting. Whatever the ins and outs of Colombian politics 
may have been, the nation had, of course, a perfect right to 
delay as long as it wished in making a treaty with us, though 
as a matter of fact it apparently intended to make it on our 
own terms. It intended also, however, to collect |io,ooo,ooo 
from the French syndicate, which could not sell its rights 
without Colombian consent, and that amount would be added 
to our bill. 

To make a long story short, with the connivance of Roosevelt 
a revolution was staged in Panama; the province seceded; 
American war vessels prevented Colombian troops from landing 
to quell it. We recognized the new nation of Panama almost 
overnight, and made a treaty with her by which we leased 
the “Canal Zone” in perpetuity. The rawness of such im- 
perialistic methods beat almost ‘anything that Europe had 
been guilty of or anything which the worst of our “Christian 
men” might have attempted in the business world. It hurt 
our reputation seriously throughout South America, and 
eighteen years later we made partial amends to the pride of 
Colombia by granting her 125,000,000, or two and a half times 
the exfsra sum which we might have had to pay for the Canal 
Zone in Roosevelt’s time with honor. It is only fair to add 
that within ten years after we began the work of digging we 
were able to open the Canal to traffic, and, owing to the 
extraordinary ability and skill of Colonel Goethals, we made 
what had been a pesthole, morally and physically, into one 
of the healthiest and most decent spots on earth. The pity 
of it was that Roosevelt could not be patient enough to do it 
honestly. 

In 1905, however, he accomplished a genuinely great feat of 
diplomacy in bringing the belligerents in the Russo-Japanese 
War together at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and causing 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


358 

the meeting to eventuate in peace largely through his own 
diplomacy and tact. Two years later an American naval 
fleet, including sixteen new battleships, left Hampton Roads 
for a cruise around the World, returning fourteen months later, 
in February 1909, without a single mishap, and after causing 
a distinct impression of our growing power and position in 
the navy bureaus throughout the world. 

Within nineteen years after the official notice of the close 
of the frontier we had thus witnessed our greatest conflicts 
between capital and labor; had launched on a policy of conser- 
vation instead of limitless exploitation; had begun to be self- 
critical of our business morality and methods; had fought a 
European nation and acquired island possessions, extending to 
the Far East, with 11,000,000 inhabitants; had gone afield to 
build the Panama Canal ; had interfered beneficently in world 
politics in China and elsewhere ; had helped notably to estab- 
lish the Hague Tribunal ; and our battle fleet had been seen 
around the globe. In applied science we had been making 
great advances, especially in the technology of mass produc- 
tion, which was just getting ^nto its stride. In our willingness 
to scrap old methods of manufacture and to experiment in 
every field we were to provide the world with a striking exhibi- 
tion of economic courage; but it has been an odd trait in us 
that, whereas we are among the most courageous of economic 
innovators, we have been as great fundamentalists in many 
other respects as Bryan himself was as a Bible student. - While 
we were willing to stretch economic change to the breaking 
point, we were unwilling — or those at the head of our great 
economic enterprises were unwilling — to alter in the slightest 
our social and political arrangements to correspond with the 
new economic ones. Partly as a consequence of this, — or 
perhaps as a cause, - — the old conditions adapted for a more 
or less equalitarian society, combined with the new technology, 
began to create an unprecedented gulf between the wage 
earner and the incipient billionaire. It is true that, as we have 
seen, the size of individual fortunes had been growing with each 
generation, but our new methods both of manufacture and of 


THE AGE OF THE DINOSAURS 


359 


distribution were to emphasize this tendency in an alarming 
degree. Even yet we have found no method of control, partly 
because of our inherent fear of social change, a fear which the 
fortunate beneficiaries of the system exploit and inculcate to 
the utmost. Taft — weak, amiable, and with a legal mind — 
had been subject to it. Not so, however, was the new Presi- 
dent, though by no means a radical by any standard other than 
that of our economic fundamentalists. 

Roosevelt had served as President for seven years, and he 
considered that the wise tradition which limits the holding of 
the office to two terms applied in his case. In character he 
cannot be compared with either Lincoln or Washington, but 
the mere necessary statement of that negative proves his 
stature. In dealing with the greatest problem of his time, 
which was that of how to reconcile economic and political 
democracy with the inevitable appearance of the dinosaurs 
in a nation as huge as the United States, it cannot be said that 
he offered any very deep or coherent solution. 

He did, however, perform a service of the first magnitude, 
which no one else at that time' was competent to perform. 
Just when we were feeling the full impact of the forces growing 
to explosive tension, owing in part to the end of the frontier, 
he provided a sane leadership to which the most oppressed 
and discontented could rally. , Regarded by the leaders of big 
business as a pestiferous radical, he was in fact a godsend to 
them . * He was the lightning rod to carry off harmlessly the pent- 
up fury of the storm which might otherwise have caused vast 
havoc. More than that, in spite of his own shortcomings, he 
was a vital force in helping toward a higher ethics of business 
life and in keeping alive the American dream for the ordinary 
citizen during perhaps the most critical period in the history 
of our democracy. If he cannot be ranked with Lincoln, 
he was undeniably the greatest Republican President since 
Lincoln, though cursed by the leaders of his own party. 

Declining to run for a third term, he dictated the nomina- 
tion of his successor, Taft. For the next four years the new 
President, although he was merely weak and not a reactionary 



THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


360 

himself, allowed the reactionary forces to regain headway. 
In some ways the nation was undergoing profound changes. 
Many of them were felt rather than perceived by the ordinary 
man. For one thing his ballot, cast into the box on election 
day, was decreasing steadily in value and influence. Public 
opinion was beginning to be more and more manipulated by 
means of subtle and high-cost propaganda, until it has been 
said, not without show of reason, by those familiar with the 
most recent advertising methods, that only cost limits the 
delivery of public opinion in any direction desired on any 
topic. The more money available, the larger the slice of 
opinion that can be duly delivered. Moreover, organizations, 
groups, and powerful minorities of all sorts, well backed 
financially, were beginning to exert more control over leg- 
islators than the wishes of the unorganized voters. Over five 
hundred such organizations have been listed recently as hav- 
ing offices in Washington for the purpose of bringing direct 
pressure to bear upon legislation. The Anti-Saloon League 
is merely the most notorious and one of the most successful. 
The influence of such group§, and of the lobbies of the great 
economic ones, - — railroads, electric and water power com- 
panies, manufacturers of all sorts with tariff axes to grind, 
and so on, — was beginning its undermining of the mere vote 
of the ordinary citizen. Much 0/ this sort of invisible governing 
was beginning to be notable in Taffs day, and he proved 
incapable of dealing with forces which in many cases, perhaps, 
he scarcely recognized. One of the most powerful bodies in 
the country to-day, the United States Chamber of Com- 
merce, was, indeed, formed at his suggestion. 

Various matters had conspired to weaken the friendship 
between Taft and Roosevelt, who had returned to America 
from his African and European trip^ some time before the 
campaign of 1912. Unfortunately for his reputation, Roose- 
velt allowed himself to believe that he should contest 
the renomination which Taft desired, and when defeated in 
the convention, where the rulings and proceedings were dis- 
creditable alike to him and to Taft, he organized a separate 


THE AGE OF THE DINOSAURS 361 

party, the “ BuU Moose,” and broke with his own. With the 
Republican vote split between Taft and Roosevelt, the way 
was cleared with ease for the election of the Democratic 
candidate, Woodrow Wilson, former President of Princeton 
University and Governor of New Jersey, an able man and 
distinctly a Progressive. 

In one respect the election marked the end of an era in our 
country. For the first time every citizen in every section of 
the continental United States save the District of Columbia 
was able to vote as a citizen of an established State. There 
were no longer any territorial governments left, the last two 
Territories, Arizona and New Mexico, having been admitted 
as States in the closing months of Taft’s administration. 
Alaska, acquired from Russia in 1867, and Hawaii, annexed 
in 1898, were the only Territories remaining, and they, like 
the islands acquired from Spain, were outside the limits of the 
old continental United States. If 1890 marked the end of 
the frontier, 1912 marked the end of that long process of 
expansion and State making for which the foundation had 
been laid by the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. None could 
have been so farsighted as to see then, when our population 
of about 3,750,000 was confined within national limits which 
extended only to the Mississippi and did not even include 
Florida and the Gulf coast, ^,hat in exactly a century and a 
quarter a population of over 95,000,000 would have extended 
over idle entire area to the Pacific, every portion populated 
densely enough to warrant a State government, and that the 
original thirteen States would have grown to a sisterhood 
of forty-eight with the centre of population in the Mississippi 
Valley instead of on the Atlantic Coast. 

These facts, however, were merely the physical and 
statistical symbols of the completion of a great process and 
of a change in direction. A population multiplied nearly 
thirtyfold, a frontier ended, a nation completed of forty-eight 
States with no more territorial status, pointed to a fundamental 
and colossal alteration. 

In his brief inaugural address, after, speaking of the reasons 


362 THE EPIC OF AMERICA 

for the overturn in the national administration, Wilson clearly 
recalled the people to consider again the vision of what America 
might and should be. “We have,” he said, “been refreshed 
by a new insight into our own life. We see that in many things 
that life is very great. It is incomparably great in its material 
aspects. ... It is great, also, very great, in its moral force. 
We have built up, moreover, a great system of gov- 
ernment. . . . But the evil has come with the good, and 
much fine gold has been corroded. We have squandered a 
great part of what we might have used. ... We have been 
proud of our industrial achievements, but we have not hitherto 
stopped thoughtfully enough to count the human cost, the cost 
of lives snuffed out, of energies overtaxed and broken, the 
fearful physical and spiritual cost to the men and women and 
children upon whom the dead weight and burden of it all has 
fallen pitilessly the years through. The groans and agony 
of it all had not yet reached our ears, the solemn, moving 
undertone of our life, coming up out of the mines and factories 
and out of every home where the struggle had its intimate and 
familiar seat. With the great Government went many things 
which we too long delayed to look into and scrutinize with 
candid, fearless eyes. The great Government we loved has 
too often been made use of for private and selfish purposes, 
and those who used it had forgotten the people. At last a 
vision has been vouchsafed to us of opr life as a whole. We 
see the bad with the good, the debased and decadent with the 
sound and vital. . . . There has been something crude and 
heartless and unfeeling in our haste to succeed and be great. 
Our thought has been, ‘Let every man look out for himself, 
let every generation look out for itself,’ while we reared giant 
machinery which made it impossible that any but those who 
stood at the levers of control should have a chance to look out 
for themselves. . . . We have come now to the sober second 
thought. . . . We have made up our minds to square every 
process of our national life again with the standard we so 
proudly set up at the beginning and have always carried in 
our hearts. . . . We shall restore, not destroy. We shall 


THE AGE OF THE DINOSAURS 


363 

deal with our economic system as it is and as it may be modified, 
not as it might be if we had a clean sheet of paper to write 
upon. . . . And yet it will be no cool process of mere science. 
The Nation has been deeply stirred, stirred by a solemn 
passion, stirred by the knowledge of wrong, of ideals lost, of 
government too often debauched and made an instrument 
of evil. . . . This is not a day of triumph; it is a day of 
dedication.” 

Here once more was the authentic voice of the great American 
democracy ; here once more was the prophet speaking of the 
American dream, of that hope of a better and richer life for all 
the masses of humble and ordinary folk who made the American 
nation. It was the voice once more of the democratic frontier, 
of Jefferson, of J ackson, of Lincoln. But there was a difference. 
There were still the “plain people” to appeal to. There was 
still the American dream in their hearts. But the frontier 
was gone. Had the old frontier been there, with its illimitable 
opportunity, the President’s words would have fallen strangely 
upon it when he declaimed against squandering our natural 
resources, against our haste to b'fe rich and great, against the 
doctrine of every man for himself. These had been of the 
essence of the frontier, and that a denunciation of them could 
find answering welcome meant that the frontier was coming 
to an end in our thought as it, had done two decades earlier in 
physical fact. 

The" failure of Wilson’s efforts at the end of his second term 
should not blind us to the accomplishments of the first. The 
hearts of the ordinary citizens had been strengthened by 
Roosevelt’s fight on their behalf and by his preaching of the 
simpler virtues which had come to be lost sight of in our 
feverish industrial life. Whatever may have been Roosevelt’s 
faults, and they were many and open to all men’s view, I think 
it cannot be denied that he left the heart of the nation sounder 
and more wholesome than he had found it ; and that is some- 
thing of which few statesmen can boast. Taft, in spite of his vir- 
tues, and they were many, was unable to inspire the nation, 
but after the slack water of his four years Wilson for a time 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


364 

gave once more to the people — in a measure greater than 
Roosevelt’s — a vision of nobility and importance in their life 
and destiny that none save Washington and Jelferson and 
Lincoln had yet been able to kindle for them. 

Nor was it the mere idealism of the impractical dreamer. 
In his first term he could point to a notable number of things 
accomplished. The Underwood Tariff was the lowest since 
the Civil War, and to it was appended our first graduated 
income tax. The Federal Reserve Act, under which our bank- 
ing system now operates, was passed a few months later, 
and marked the greatest advance toward sound banking that 
had been made in our history. The Federal Trade Commission 
was created and given wide powers with respect to corporations 
and interstate commerce, though its functions were chiefly 
those of investigation and advice. The Clayton Act, with 
a full set of teeth, greatly strengthened the government’s hands 
in dealing with corporations and unlawful monopolies. In 
addition it strengthened the position of labor by declaring 
that injunctions could not be issued in labor disputes except 
to prevent irreparable injufy to property, and by making 
trade-unions, boycotts, strikes, and picketing legal. 

The President also succeeded in having Congress repair a 
breach of national good faith with England. Under the 
Hay-Pauncefote Treaty of iggi we had agreed that there 
should never be any discrimination against the ships of foreign 
nations if we built the Canal and fortified it ourselves.” Sub- 
sequently Congress had passed an act exempting American 
shipping from the tolls which we charged foreign vessels, and 
although efforts had been made to secure the repeal of this 
obvious act of bad faith. Congress had been stubborn. Owing 
to the revolutions in Mexico, Wilson was having a difficult 
time in maintaining his policy with regard to that neighbor. 
Great pressure was brought to bear upon him by the oil and 
other business interests of this country and by the oil interests 
in England. As the price of a free hand granted him by that 
country he agreed to secure the repeal of the unjust tolls law, 
and did so by appealing to Congress not only on the score of 


THE AGE OF THE DINOSAURS 


365 


national self-respect, but on the ground that there were matters 
in the foreign policy of the country with which he would be 
unable to deal unless Congress granted the request. 

Wilson’s M policy was probably a mistaken one, and 
of course his administration could claim no credit for the 
announcement in 1913 of the passage of the Constitutional 
Amendments providing for the income tax and for the direct 
election of Senators, both of which had been started on their 
process of ratification during the previous administration. 
But it could justly claim to have accomplished more con- 
structive work in a couple of years toward the readjustment 
of American ideals and life to the new conditions imposed 
upon them than any previous administration since we had 
started in our new orbit in 1890. Not only that, but the 
President had also shown unexpected ability in handling the 
political problems of his office and had become the undisputed 
head of his party as well as of the nation. We had set ourselves 
earnestly to the work of correcting abuses and of reconstructing 
the possibilities of the American dream in the new world of 
economic dinosaurs, of billion^ of capital and millions of 
employees, of the radio, the telephone, the motor car, the 
aeroplane, the whole infinite complexity in which there seemed 
room for everything except the heart of man and the old 
independence of the individi^al to work out his own life and 
scale of values. But we had made great progress. We had, as 
WilsSVi said, been refreshed with a new insight into ourselves. 
We wished to be fair to capital, but we wished to set man 
himself in the higher seat. How far we might have gone 
toward reestablishing the dream in the new setting had we 
been given not only the leadership but the time needed, we 
shall never know. As we swung our axe above our head to 
bring it down on the^ roots of our evils, a grisly hand from 
behind seized our wrist and held it firm. Then there was 
darkness. 

In April 1912, the world’s greatest ship, the Titanic, sailed 
from England in all the pride of her maiden voyage. With 
every device of modern engineering, she seemed impregnable 


366 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


to the perils of the sea. Halfway across, the submerged 
portion of an iceberg tore her from bow to stern, and in a few 
moments she sank below the waves with the loss of fifteen 
hundred lives. The next year, with money contributed by 
Carnegie, a palace was built at The Hague to house the peace 
of the y^orld. Then, in the summer of 1914, a pistol shot rang 
out at Sarajevo and an Austrian Archduke was murdered. 
Austria declared war on Serbia. Mobilizations followed 
swiftly on European frontiers. The nations quickly followed 
one another into the bottomless gulf — Germany, Russia, 
France, Belgium, Great Britain. Like the sinking of the 
it all seemed to come without an instant’s warning. 
The earth, which we had thought safe and solid to work and 
play and dream our dream on, suddenly sank beneath our feet. 
The waves closed over all that had been known and familiar 
and loved. The lights of the world went out. 


XIII 

AMERICA REVISITS THE OLD WORLD 

In those days of August 19I4 the first reaction of America 
was one of stunned amazement. Except for the half-holiday 
episode of the war with Spain, we had almost all of us forgotten 
that such a horror could raise its head in our modern world. 
Only the oldest generation aniong us, men past sixty, had even 
the faintest childhood recollections of our Civil War or the War 
in Europe of 1870. War seemed an incredible anachronism. 
For the past decade we had had our minds intently focused 
on moral problems and the effort to work out ways and means 
of making our own land a better and cleaner one in all its 
aspects. The muckraking in business, the efforts to improve 
the slums led by such men as Riis, the progress that was at 
last being made in Congress in controlling instead of destroying 
big business, all seemed to promise the nearer fulfillment of the 
American dream. Suddenly the whole of Western European 
civilization appeared to have burst into flames. 

Nor was our bewilderment rendered any the less by our 
having clear notions of what it was all about. Why should 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


368 

all Europe be so instantaneously at each other’s throats 
because an Austrian Archduke had been murdered in Serbia ? 
Why should Austria refuse any possible solution but war? 
Why the Russian mobilization ? Why should Germany 
instantly invade Belgium to attack France, all on account 
of a mysterious murder of one individual ? Although 
heretofore we had scarcely regarded England as the defender 
of small peoples, we could understand her entry into the 
conflict in order to comply with her guarantee of Belgian 
neutrality, but the rest of the whole business was beyond us. 

In fact, there is not the slightest reason why we should have 
understood. The ordinary man in the street in Europe or 
on the farms of Europe was almost as bewildered as we 
ourselves, nor have the scholars as yet, fifteen years later, with 
all the documents before them, been able to agree as to the 
“ causes ” of the war. Of the stresses and strains of the 
European system we knew little and cared less; nor did we 
bother ourselves about European quarrels centuries old. The 
problems involved in developing in a little more than one 
century from a small peopleT of about 6,000,000 to a world 
power of 110,000,000, the epic sweep of carrying a civiliza- 
tion across three thousand miles of empty continent from 
the Atlantic to the Pacific, the building up of our government, 
the absorption of alien races, ha^d all been enough to consume 
the energies of our own or any people. , 

Europe was infinitely far away. On the Atlantic seaboard, 
and to a less extent elsewhere, there were many individuals 
who frequently went abroad and who had European contacts 
and interests, but they belonged to a relatively small class. 
Most of our people, even in the East, scarce gave Europe a 
thought in their daily lives. Across the mountains, in the 
great Valley of the Mississippi, Europe disappeared almost 
entirely, except as the thoughts of immigrants or the children 
of immigrants went out sentimentally to their homelands of 
Germany or Norway or Sweden or Russia, or whatever they 
might be. There was no more reason why the farmers and 
shopkeepers and professional men of this empire-in-itself of 


AMERICA REVISITS THE OLD WORLD 369 

"Or Man River ” should have accurate knowledge of European 
politics and business than why they should have busied them- 
selves with China. Across the next mountains again, and on 
the Pacific slope, indeed, China became far more important 
than Europe, and our minds, like our ships and trade, went 
out to the Orient with never a thought of the European world. 
Perhaps, at that, we knew more of Europe than Europe did 
of us. If we were provincial, so had Europe been, wrapped 
up in a sense of its own superior importance. With a few 
notable exceptions, such as Bryce or Jusserand, even educated 
and presumably cultured Europeans had paid as little attention 
to us as we had to the New Zealanders. The ignorance was 
not all “ made in America.” 

If there was not much knowledge of Europe among us, 
however, that did not mean that there was not plenty of 
emotion and prejudice concerning particular countries there. 
First, there were those prejudices of fairly broad American 
spread, dating back to the Revolution of 1776. Perhaps the 
most widely held was the purely sentimental affection for 
France due to the legend of the sister Republic in Europe, 
the State that had helped us gain our independence, that 
country of Lafayette who had become a sort of folk hero 
among us. So strong had these emotional appeals been that 
no action of France subsequently, however hostile, had suc- 
ceeded in changing them. 'The attitude toward England 
was Tmore mixed. There was a small Anglo-maniac group, 
mostly in the East, and a larger and rabidly anti-English 
group, with a large percentage of the whole people hesitating 
between moderate dislike and the feeling that after all we 
were of English descent as a nation and had more in common 
with her than with other peoples. Until the Spanish War, 
however, we could not deceive ourselves into believing that 
the England of the rufing classes had thought in friendly terms 
of us. The Revolution, the War of 1812, Palmerston’s bullying 
threat of war in 1841, the attitude of upper-class opinion and of 
the press in the Civil War, all had left a very bad impression on 
top of the natural effects of our schoolbook history and oratory. 


37 ° 


THE EPIC OF . AMERICA 


In addition, we had the feelings of smaller groups. The 
Irish, always influential politically, hated England and had long 
been accustomed to use feeling against her in political fights 
and campaigns. We had also nearly 9,000,000 inhabitants 
who were either German-born or had one parent at least who 
was a native German. They had made excellent citizens, and 
there was much friendly sentiment in the country both for 
them and for their nation. There were other racial groups of 
large size and importance. New York alone, for example, 
contained more Italians than any city in Italy. The great 
numbers of Scandinavians in the Northwest were naturally 
more allied in sympathy to Germany than to England. 

As the war got under way we were deluged with propaganda, 
much of which was designed to appeal to the base emotions 
rather than the intellect, and much of which has subsequently 
turned out to have been deliberately false. Ail the warring 
powers tried thus to influence us, though the Germans proved 
particularly clumsy in their efforts. On the other hand, it is 
now admitted that such an item as that sent out by the British 
showing photographs of the 'Germans hauling the bodies of 
soldiers to the soap factory was an absolute falsification 
intended to influence the Chinese. The stories of cutting off 
the hands of the Belgian children were fabrications. Our own 
Admiral Sims has declared that on investigation the stories 
of atrocious cruelty of submarine commanders, with one 
exception, were falsehoods. The French executed twcr war 
nurses under almost the identical circumstances of the German 
execution of Nurse Cavell, but we were not told. Naturally 
the emotional Allied or German propaganda was accepted 
respectively by those who believed in the Allies or in the 
Germans, but was infuriating to those whose opinions 
were the reverse. On the whole, perhaps, it all tended to 
confuse rather than to clarify our honest sentiments and 
thought. 

Little by little, however, certain broad facts began to emerge 
in our consciousness, although not in that of all the racial 
groups. What the reasons were we did not know, but 



AMERICA REVISITS THE OLD WORLD 371 

apparently the Central Powers had made the first move toward 
war and had refused to delay for any possible mediation. The 
invasion of Belgium was distinctly a crime against international 
law, and the famous “scrap of paper” phrase made a great 
impression on us. However, there was no reason for us to 
involve ourselves in one of the interminable wars of Europe. 
If the Germans under the Kaiser were trying to upset the 
balance of power in Europe, it was just what the French had 
done under Napoleon. If the Kaiser had tried to give us digs 
at times, Germany had never been so overtly unfriendly as had 
Louis Napoleon during our Civil War, when he wanted to 
acknowledge the South and had seized Mexico for Maximilian. 
There had obviously never been anything in England’s attitude 
toward us for a century and a half that would call for us to 
fly to her assistance when she declared war on powers with 
which we were at peace. Belgium was unquestionably suf- 
fering from a crime against law, but we had not been sig- 
natories of the treaty guaranteeing her neutrality, and there was 
no reason why we should be expected to act as policeman 
for the globe. Had we, with Chile, Brazil, and the Argentine, 
guaranteed the neutrality of Uruguay and then had we suddenly 
violated her territory, certainly neither England nor France 
would have felt bound to go to war with us to right a moral 
wrong on the other side of the world among a set of nations 
of an entirely different political system. 

Moreover, and this was important, for more than a century 
it had been the corner stone of our international policy that 
we should keep hands off Europe absolutely and that Europe 
in turn should keep hands off the New World. Unless we 
were ourselves directly attacked, for us to intervene in a 
European quarrel would have been to stultify our whole 
national policy and invite European intervention in the 
Americas. Except b>^ a few hotheads of high station or low, 
the neutrality proclamation of the President was universally 
welcomed in America as the only proper course to take. 
Incidentally, we were doing our best — almost quixotically, 
as many thought — to keep the peace with Mexico under 


372 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


much provocation, and a good part of our small standing 
army was then stationed on our Southern border. 

Even if we remained neutral, however, it was at once obvious 
that we were to be profoundly influenced. The New York 
Stock Exchange was forced to close on August i, and to remain 
closed for ten months. The Federal Reserve Board, under 
our new banking system, had hurriedly to be created, and the 
President announced that $500,000,000 in emergency currency 
would be available. Practically all the ships which had con- 
nected us with Europe as by a frequent ferry were foreign- 
owned, and commerce and passenger service almost ceased 
for a while. Imported goods quickly soared in price. 
Naturally, however, as production declined in Europe, owing 
to the vast numbers of men called to the colors in every 
belligerent country, the demand for American goods of all 
sorts — foodstuffs, ammunition, manufactures of every de- 
scription — ' rose by leaps. Two things became clear. One 
was that the war was likely to act as a forced draft under 
our whole system of production; and the other was that, as 
the most important neutral in $. time of very complex commerce, 
we were likely also to have to face and deal with all the problems 
of neutral trade that we had had to deal with in the Napoleonic 
Wars and since. The doctrine of the freedom of the seas for 
which we had always stood was going to be put to severe test. 

Throughout our whole history 'we had been facing westward. 
Until very recent years, when emigration had tended to- flow 
back and forth somewhat, practically every emigrant to 
America had come because of oppression or suppression in his 
European homeland. He had come for greater freedom of 
religious and political thought or of social and economic 
opportunity. As we had plunged into the forests, and then 
farther and farther westward across prairies and plains and 
mountains to the Pacific, our eyes had ever been turned to 
the sunset and the future. The dreams and efforts of the great 
Western railway builders, the Harrimans and Hills, had 
crossed the Pacific to where the rainbow rested on the shores 
of Asia, Our tourists came. from Europe in European ships, 


AMERICA REVISITS THE OLD WORLD 373 

but we launched our own to carry our commerce to China and 
Japan and the Philippines. With the coming of the war, 
it was as though someone had roughly seized us by the shoulder 
and dizzily spun us round. The daily headlines in the papers 
concerning the most catastrophic drama in history held our 
attention. Our desire to learn sent us to books of Euro- 
pean history and politics. The stream of propaganda was 
bewildering and unwelcome in a way and to an extent that a 
European can scarcely be expected to understand. Vaguely 
we felt that we had left Europe years or centuries ago - — 
because we or our ancestors were through with it. We had 
asked to be let alone and we had not been. We had fought 
for our independence and won it. We had had to fight again. 
In the Monroe Doctrine we had told Europe we would let her 
alone over there if she would let us alone in our New World. 
Europe had scarcely ever expressed the slightest interest in us 
or friendly sympathy for us. When we had been young, weak, 
raw, and struggling, European critics had sneered. We had 
gone our own way and asked no favors. We had built up not 
only a great nation, but on the whole a happy and contented 
one. And suddenly, on account of obscure influences and 
events in which we had had neither part nor lot, Europe 
seemed to be pursuing us overseas. We had been wholly 
intent on ourselves. 

We were unfair in some Ways. We saw that on our own 
continent forty-eight sovereign States could live in peace; 
that, as fellow citizens in them, French and Germans and 
Russians and Austrians and English and scores of other races 
could live and work in friendly fashion. As we looked oversea 
into the.torrid crater of European hatreds, it seemed as though 
the world had gone back centuries, whereas we, in frontier 
fashion, had been thinking in terms of the future and of a 
happier fate for hum2.nity. The shock of the shift in view 
was no less profound because it was largely subconscious. 

In fact, in its broad aspects, Europe’s case, dissimilar to 
our own as it was in outward circumstance, appears to have 
been fundamentally much like it. Whatever the immediate 


374 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


causes of the war, the basic one would seem to have been the 
impact of the Industrial Revolution upon a closed frontier. 
Our own expansion had taken place up to 1890 wi th a minimum 
of explosive violence. • To the world at large the pushing back 
of the Indian had meant little more than the extermination 
of the bison or the prairie dog. Several huge additions to the 
national domain had been secured by purchase as easily as if 
we had bought some new cottages. The wars to secure the 
rest had not been of world importance. In much the same way, 
for a couple of centuries or more, certain great European 
powers such as England and France had secured vast colonial 
empires in Africa and Asia. Germany, with her rapidly 
increasing population due to industrialism, had come too late 
on the scene to get her share. As H. J. Mackinder had pointed 
out in the Geographical Keview in 1904, Europe, after having 
been hemmed in by strong barbarian powers in the Middle 
Ages, had subsequently been able to expand around the world 
until it had again come to be faced by completely preempted 
territories and a “closed political system.” 

We have already noted the,profound effects on our own life 
of the close of our frontier. We have seen how we began to 
expand forcibly beyond the old limits, even though our land 
were as yet not densely populated. The tension of the re- 
pressed forces in Europe was far greater than with us, and the 
explosion came in 1914. This cfoes not relieve the Kaiser or 
other actors on the scene of their imlnediate responsibility; 
but just as in our own daily lives there are the immediate 
motives for what we do and the whole background of our life 
and character which also determine our conduct, so there were 
both the immediate and the underlying causes for the debacle 
of civilkation in Europe. In much the same fashion as the 
American capitalists did not have the mentality requisite for 
adjusting economic conditions to the hgitimate demands of 
the smaller but ambitious men, so the imperialistic nations 
who had all the power of overseas possessions they wanted 
had failed to realize that the responsibility was in part theirs 
to devise some adjustment of the world situation that would 


AMERICA REVISITS THE OLD WORLD 375 


satisfy the legitimate desires of the new and young nations 
that in turn demanded opportunity. The old always 

think the young too aggressive. The rich think the rising 
poor too excessive in their demands. Those who hold power 
yield only reluctantly a share of it to others. The situations 
are as old as human nature. The solution of the problem 
was difEcultj — perhaps impossible, — but the crux of the 
problem was fairly simple in its stark outlines. 

The European international situation repeated almost fea- 
ture for feature our own domestic situation on the ending 
of the frontier. This we began to sense after a while also. 
In spite of what may seem a paradox in view of our own 
military adventures, we were at heart a peaceful, almost a 
pacifist, people. We did not condone the war, but on the 
other hand we were also a youthful nation which had had to 
fight for its place in the sun against the established empires 
of the Old World. Our sympathy had always gone out to 
those who had likewise fought them, as in the case of the 
South American Republics and Spain. In Africa and Asia 
we had seen England and France build up imperial possessions 
founded upon force against natives. There did not seem 
anything very sacred as to rights of property or government 
in such European empires, especially with the atrocities in 
the Belgian Congo in our minds. If Germany in turn chose 
to challenge the rights of thS others by force — well, that had 
been' the way of the whole European world, and of our own. 
We had no conception of the magnitude of the struggle that 
had been initiated; nor, for that matter, had Europe itself. 
Everybody everywhere thought it would be over in a few 
months. Some colonial possessions might change owners, 
some boundary lines might be redrawn, some indemnities 
might be paid, and then the world would go on again much 
as before. " 

Meanwhile the orders for goods came from overseas like 
tidal waves. From 1914 to 1916, our exports of explosives 
rose from |6,ooo,ooo to $467,000,000. The exports of steel 
and iron doubled. Wheat at high prices flowed from the West 


376 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


in an endless stream. By July 1916, we had bought back, 
chiefly from England, about $1,300,000,000 of securities sold 
to her when we needed capital for development. Farms and 
factories were busy as never before, and prices were going 
steadily up and up. For a decade we had been concentrating 
for the first time on how to bring our business life into bet- 
ter harmony with the American dream. With the feverish 
activity and colossal profits suddenly thrust upon us, there 
was no longer time, opportunity, or mood for that. The most 
hectic gold rush of frontier days had been nothing to this rush 
from Europe to give us dollars. The new and sober vision of 
ourselves which Wilson had said had been vouchsafed to us 
drifted away like a pufF of smoke before the frenzied demand 
of Europe for everything we had at any price we placed on it. 
It was not our fault. It was Fate. The same evil which was 
ruining Europe, sowing death and hate among the nations, 
turned away our hand just at the moment when it had been 
deliberately set to the task of harmonizing our American dream 
with the changed realities of our new age. For Europe the 
war was an economic debacle for us it was a moral calamity. 

The difiiculties which we anticipated as neutrals soon 
multiplied thickly around us. Not only did most of the old 
problems arise again in aggravated form, but science, by 
completely changing the nature of war, had provided innu- 
merable new complications without providing any solution for 
them. The Napoleonic Wars had been'fought by professional 
armies, leaving the civilian populations, outside the immediate 
theatre of operations, largely untouched. The war of 1914 
was a war in which the civilian behind the lines was almost as 
much of a combatant as the soldier at the front. The old 
and simple list of what constituted contraband articles of war 
could no longer in honesty suffice, but there was no new 
international law defining the new contraband. If, as was 
true, the civilian workman was as much a factor in the war 
as was the soldier, almost everything needed in our new 
complex industrial life became closely related to winning or 
losing. 



AMERICA REVISITS THE OLD WORLD 377 


Moreover, there was the complication that an immense pro- 
portion of the goods we claimed the right to ship to neutral 
countries obviously was going to belligerents. For example, 
our exports to Denmark rose from 1558,000, in November 1913, 
to I7, 1 00,000 in the following November ; to Sweden, from 
^377,000 to $l,S 50,000; to Norway, from 1477,000 to ^2,300,- 
000 ; to Italy, from $2,300,000 to $4,800,000. If we consider 
that these figures are for thirty days only, the magnitude of this 
dubious “neutral trade” is clear. In the same way the prob- 
lem of mails arose. By parcel post large amounts of contra- 
band were being sent to Germany, a few mails examined yield- 
ing, for example, over three thousand packets of raw rubber 
alone, and in two months the British censorship seized letters 
containing about $10,000,000 worth of securities and nearly 
$25,000,000 in drafts and money orders for the Central Powers. 

Science had made a new world, but the laws of war had been 
made for the old one. That England, as the chief naval bel- 
ligerent, infringed those laws over and over there is no ques- 
tion, just as there is no question that the whole code of law 
needed remodeling to meet the r?ew age of applied science. On 
the other hand, we were placed in an extremely difficult posi- 
tion. When citizens complained to our government that their 
legal rights were being interfered with by belligerents, it was 
the duty of the government to make the proper representa- 
tions. As the most powerful neutral in the world, and as one 
which had always maintained the rights of neutrals in war, a 
heavy responsibility rested upon us. The Allies complained 
that we often took a narrowly legalistic view of their illegal 
but, it must be confessed, necessary acts. It may well be asked, 
however, now that the passions of the time have partially 
cooled. What else could we do? Even if the sympathies of 
our citizens had all been on one side, which they were not, we 
could not alter the laws of war in the middle of a war in favor 
of one side without ceasing to be a neutral. If we winked at 
some laws for the benefit of the Allies, it would be only fair to 
wink at others for Germany, and our policy, instead of being 
based on the fairly well-defined law of neutrality, would have 


378 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


become an incoherent succession of decisions dictated by our 
emotional sympathies. 

Busy as we had been with the development of our continent, 
and materialistic as Europe had chosen to think us, we had 
long been contending for a more reasonable law of nations. 
From the middle of the preceding century, American citizens 
had presented plans at various European Congresses, — - Brus- 
sels, Paris, Frankfort, and London, — and if no progress had 
been made for a Court of International Arbitration and for a 
recodifying of international law, it had not been our fault. If 
Europe had declined to assist us in such undertakings, it could 
hardly accuse us of lack of sympathy because we could not 
alter the laws to suit its purposes in the midst of a war in which 
we were neutral. At the same time, there was no doubt that 
the old laws did not fit the new situation, and the complica- 
tions were almost inextricable. Nations fighting for their lives 
could hardly be expected to keep to the old laws in strict letter 
any more than they could be expected to use only sabres and 
breechloaders. On the other hand, we should have to stand 
by the old laws or cease to be neutral. If we ceased to be 
neutral, we should have to enter the war on one side or the other. 

Owing to circumstances, the stopping of our cargoes and the 
opening of our mails fell mostly to the lot of the English. On 
the other hand, the breaches of neutrality by the Central 
Powers became even more glaring in the shape of plots in our 
own country and in the use of the submarine. The sinking of 
the Lusitaniay with the loss of about 1200 persons of whom 114 
were Americans, was merely the most dramatic episode in the 
new policy of submarine warfare developed by the Germans. 
It is as impossible as it is unnecessary to tell in detail the whole 
story of our gradual reaching to the point at which neutrality 
no longer became possible for us. 

In January 1916, Wilson made a tour of the Middle West, 
which was largely German in sympathy, to impress upon the 
people the dangers of the situation. “I know that you are 
depending upon me,” he told one audience in the German city 
of Milwaukee, “ to keep this nation out of war. So far I have 


AMERICA REVISITS THE OLD WORLD 379 

done sOj and I pledge you my word that, God helping me, I 
will — if it be possible. You have laid another duty upon me. 
You have bidden me see that nothing stains or impairs the 
honor of the United States. And that is a matter not within 
my control. . . . There may be at any moment a time when 
I cannot both preserve the honor and the peace of the United 
States. Do not exact of me an impossible and contradictory 
thing, but stand ready, and insist that everybody who repre- 
sents you should stand ready, to provide the means for main- 
taining the honor of the United States.” In Des Moines, he 
told the crowd, “ There is danger to our national life from what 
other nations may do.” Urging preparation for war, he added, 
“Do you want the situation to be such that all the President 
can do is to write messages, to utter words of protest ? If these 
breaches of international law which are in daily danger of oc- 
curring should touch the very vital interests and honor of the 
United States, do you wish to do nothing about it? Do you 
wish to have all the world say that the flag of the United States, 
which we all love, can be stained with impunity ?” 

Wilson had been negotiating .with Germany for amends for 
the damages already inflicted on us and for a renunciation 
of that nation’s submarine policy. At one stage Germany 
agreed to our terms, and there is little doubt that our country 
was in favor of peace if It could be maintained and if, at the 
same time, the belligerents dbuld be forced to respect neutral 
righis. Thus far the Allies had restricted themselves to inter- 
fering with our property, whereas the Germans had attacked 
our lives. Except for certain racial groups, who were power- 
ful but in a minority, the public generally had steadily been 
coming to recognize the moral justice of the cause of the Allies 
even apart from Belgium, and when we should enter the war 
it had become clear on which side it would be. However, the 
8,000,000 or more Germans were naturally on the side of Ger- 
many as yet, as were the Irish and their sympathizers. The 
Socialists, who had polled well on to a million votes in 1912 and 
were supposed to be stronger in 1916, were strongly opposed 
to war, as was a very strong pacifist element throughout the 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


380 

nation generally. As we have seen in other connectionSj — 
for example, the frequently contrasted attitudes of the Ameri- 
can as a “man” and as a “business man,” — the American 
mind bears within itself at the same time a strong idealism and 
a strong realism. In the opposition to our entering the war, 
both strains operated often in the same individual at the same 
time. Idealistically these people believed in peace to the very 
last ditch at which it might become impossible; and realisti- 
cally they believed it criminally unpractical to plunge a nation 
of 1 20,000,000 people into the fires of the European holocaust 
because 120 had already been killed, if there were any possible 
other way of making the belligerents consent to respect our 
rights and the law. Until it had been proved beyond doubt 
that no such way could be found, they would not enter whole- 
heartedly into the war. Whether or not Wilson provided us 
with the wisest possible leadership under the circumstances, 
these were some of the conditions which confronted him, and 
which men like Roosevelt, with no official responsibility, did 
not sufficiently weigh. 

At last, however, it was proved beyond question that there 
was no other way. In the election of 1916, Wilson had been 
reelected, although at first it was thought that his opponent 
Hughes had won. On January 31, 1917, a month before the 
President’s second inauguration, the German Ambassador 
announced that Germany was td resume unrestricted subma- 
rine warfare. Three days later Wilson announced to Congress 
that diplomatic relations with Germany had been severed. 
At the same moment the Ambassador was being given his pass- 
ports. Germany, which in May 1916 had solemnly agreed to 
accept our conditions as to submarines, had now repudiated 
the agreement, and the President requested other neutrals to 
follow our example. Germany again tried to negotiate at the 
very moment when she was absurdly plotting to embroil Mexico - 
in war with us, but on April 2, 1917, before the Congress which 
he had called in special session for the purpose, the President 
asked for a declaration of war. 

After reciting the acts which Germany had committed against 


AMERICA REVISITS THE OLD WORLD 381 

the rights of mankind, he continued, “We have no quarrel 
with the German people. We have no feeling toward them but 
one of sympathy and friendship. It was not upon their im- 
pulse that their Government acted in entering this war. . . . 
It was a war determined upon as wars used to be determined 
upon in the old, unhappy days when peoples were nowhere con- 
sulted by their rulers and wars were provoked and waged 
in the interest of dynasties or little groups of ambitious men 
who were accustomed to use their fellow men as pawns and 
tools. . . . We have no selfish ends to serve. We desire no 
conquest, no dominion. We seek no indemnities for ourselves, 
no material compensation for the sacrifices we shall freely make. 
We are but one of the champions of the rights of mankind. . . . 
It is a fearful thing to lead this great, peaceful people into war 
— -into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civiliza- 
tion itself seeming to be in the balance. But the right is more 
precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things we have 
always carried nearest our hearts — for democracy, for the 
right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their 
own government, for the rights and liberties of small nations, 
for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free 
peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make 
the world itself at last free. To such a task we dedicate our 
lives and fortunes, everything that we are and everything that 
we have, with the pride of those who know that the day has 
come when America is privileged to spend her blood and her 
might for the principles that gave her birth and happiness and 
the peace which she has treasured. God helping her, she can 
do no other.” 

Perhaps no other great nation had so struggled, against every 
provocation, to remain at peace, until every possible means of 
moral suasion had been utterly exhausted. Certainly none 
other had ever before denied to itself any possible spoil of war 
before entering the arena. It was with no illusion as to the 
shortness of the contest or the glory of it that we threw down 
our glove. The stark, grim, miserable Horror of it had been 
before the eyes of humanity for nearly three years, and there 


382 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


was no prospect of its ending for another three. When the 
news of our decision reached England, a day of solemn thanks- 
giving was proclaimed, and the King and Queen took pa.rt in a 
service at St. Paul’s Cathedral to give thanks “ to Almighty 
God on the occasion of the entry of the United States of 
America into the great war of freedom.” The Stars and Stripes 
were flown from the Victoria Tower of the Houses of Parlia- 
ment, the first time that any foreign flag had there been dis- 
played. In the House of Commons, Asquith, in concluding a 
speech on our entry into the struggle, said, “I doubt whether 
even now the world realizes the full significance of the step Amer- 
ica has taken. I do not use language of flattery or exaggeration 
when I say it is one of the most disinterested acts in history.” 

The Allies were jubilant, but it was a grim America which 
now bent its energies to carrying out the necessary job on which 
it had started. The floodgates of propaganda addressed to 
emotion and sentimentalism were opened wide. Every string 
was played upon — Lafayette and the France of ’76 ; hatred 
of the “Hun”; the union once more of the “English-speaking 
peoples ” ; all that those whoJived in those days recall so well. 
But we were uneasy. The nation whose flag flew from Parlia- 
ment Buildings was not an independent English colony grown 
up. We had not been the world’s “melting pot” for naught, 
nor lived for three centuries on the frontier of a “New World.” 
Once the die was cast, the forei§n-race groups sank their per- 
sonal feeling for their native country in an honest patwetism 
toward their new land, but much of the slushy propaganda ad- 
dressed to some could only make others question or be sad. 
Not to mention those of foreign parentage, over 13,000,000 of 
our people were foreign-born themselves — 1,500,000 from 
Southern Europe, 1,800,000 from Eastern, 4,250,000 from 
Northwestern, including the Germany-sympathizing Scandi- 
navians, and 4,200,000 from Central Europe. Of our male 
citizens over twenty-one years of age, over 1,250,000 had been 
born in Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empires, and they 
now saw the day when they would have to fight against their 
own kin. 


AMERICA REVISITS THE OLD WORLD 383 


Even to many not thus influenced by birth or descent, the 
war came as a great calamity — not because it was war, but 
because it entangled us once more with Europe. Just a cen- 
tury earlier, at the end of the War of 1812, we had turned our 
faces resolutely westward. We had tried to build a civiliza- 
tion from which the inherited hatreds and quarrels of Europe 
should be banished. And now not only had these crossed the 
sea to disturb the harmony of our household, but also we were 
to turn back on the policy which had become engrained in us 
and involve ourselves in the Old World system which was none 
of ours. It was not that we were unsympathetic toward 
Europe. Our more cultivated citizens enjoyed her life and 
appreciated her art and letters. We had shown our humani- 
tarian wish to be helpful by organizing the Belgian Relief and 
contributing I3 5,000,000 toward It. Before the war, gifts 
from our immigrant citizens had flowed in a steady stream 
of hundreds of millions annually to help their relatives in 
the homelands. But for a century every American child had 
been brought up with the belief, buttressed by Washington’s 
“Farewell Address,” that we belonged to a different world 
and that we must keep ourselves clear as a nation of the whole 
European political system of feuds and alliances; and now 
we were in it to the hilt. The Spanish War had brought no 
such questionings. It had had nothing to do with Europe, 
and everything with the New World or the westward expansion, 
which had become our natural direction. The fact that the 
suzerain of Cuba had been a European State had been mere 
accident, which scarcely was noticed by us. But to make the 
greatest effort in our history, and to direct it not constructively 
westward but punitively toward the Old World, was so unnat- 
ural as to leave a feeling of unreality about it throughout the 
struggle, and a desire to be through with it and back into our 
normal way of looking at the world. The feeling found expres- 
sion in our never calling ourself an “Ally,” but merely an 
“Associated Power.” 

Once in, however, we devoted ourselves to helping to win 
the war with whole-hearted thoroughness. It is impossible to 


3^4 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


detail all the economic and military measures taken. Our War 
, and Navy expenditure, which had normally been about fcoo,- 
000,000 a year, rose to over |7,ooo,ooo,0oo in 1918 and #11,- 
000,000,000 in 1919. Between the Declaration of War and 
the Armistice, about nineteen months, we raised 1,280,000,- 
000 by taxation, spent |a6, 000,000,000, and lent the Allies 
nearly 19,500,000,000, By the five campaigns for the sale of 
“Liberty Bonds” we added nearly 121,500,000,000 to our na- 
tional debt. The figures for man power were nearly as stag- 
gering. For the first time in our history no reliance was placed 
upon volunteering, the numbers needed being colossal, and a 
universal draft act was passed, which finally included all men fit 
for military service between the ages of eighteen and forty-five, 
the total number of men registering being over 24,234,000. 
The whole industrial structure of the nation was coordinated 
to serve the same purpose. In December 1917, the govern- 
ment took over the administration of the entire railroad sys- 
tem of the country, nearly 400,000 miles of track being turned 
over by private owners to the single management of the 
“United States Railroad Administration.” Various other 
boards, notably that of “War Industries,” undertook and per- 
formed the difficult tasks of directing the economic life of the 
nation in every aspect into a single machine for war purposes. 
In May 1918, Congress gave .the President practically the 
powers of a dictator with regard to .expenditures within the 
limits of the total appropriations. * ” 

In view of the submarine menace, one of the crying needs at 
our entry into the war was for ships. The very yards them- 
selves had to be built, but within a few months ships had begun 
to slip from the ways, and by July 4, 1918, we were able to 
launch one hundred on that single day. The submarines could 
not sink them as fast as that. The number of men mobilized 
in the army, 4,355,000, also required accommodations for what 
was the equivalent of a population almost double that of the 
city of Chicago. With our small permanent standing army, 
the problem of officering and training these sudden millions 
drawn from civil life was also a serious one. Of the 200,000 


AMERICA REVISITS THE OLD WORLD 385 

commissioned officers we had in the war, only 5791 had re- 
ceived training at West Point. By July 1918, over 1,000,000 
soldiers had reached the shores of France, and troops began to 
pass to the Old World at the rate of a half million a month. 
By November we had a,ooo,ooo in France, of whom over 1,100,- 
000 had been transported by the British Navy, which only 
four generations before had been transporting troops west- 
ward to crush the rebellious colonies. The eighteenth-cen- 
tury debt to France was paid. The whole American popula- 
tion which she had helped to free in 1778 was less than the 
number of Americans now in the army to defend her borders. 

Suddenly the end came. The German morale crumbled; 
the German army sued for peace. The adventure was over, 
and the Central Empires had lost. The situation behind the 
German lines had long been growing desperate, more than flesh 
and blood could stand. Owing to the time necessarily re- 
quired for the raising, equipping, training, and transporting 
of an army of millions over the longest lines of communica- 
tion ever attempted on a great scale in the history of war, our 
troops had taken part in actual fighting on the front to only 
a modest extent before the guns stopped on that memorable 
eleventh of November. Where they did have their chance, 
however, — at Chateau-Thierry, in the Argonne, at the Saint- 
Mihiel salient, and elsewhere, — they gave excellent account of 
themselves. We had made a tremendous effort, and coming 
into the war with fresh and enormous resources at a time when 
it had become a stalemate between the evenly balanced con- 
testants, we were able to bring victory to the side to which 
we threw our added weight. 

On the other hand, it is well to bear in mind that our losses 
were comparatively trifling, whether we contrast them with 
those of the European nations or even with our own in our 
Civil War. Economically, in the latter, half of our country 
had been left ruined and prostrate, as was a large part of Eu- 
rope in the Great War, whereas the years 1914-1918 brought 
us temporarily great profits. In the Civil War, when our total 
population was about 35,000,000, we lost by death in both our 


386 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


armies nearly 6oOjOOOj whereas in the World War, when our 
population had risen to over 100,000,000, we lost only about 

126.000 men. We may contrast this figure with the follow- 
ing: Turkey, 325,000; Rumania, 335,000; Italy, 650,000; 
British Empire, 908,000 ; Austro-Hungary, 1,200,000 ; France, 
1,363,000; Germany, 1,773,000; Russia, 1,700,000. Our to- 
tal casualties, including wounded who recovered, were about 

350.000 out of our 4,355,000 men under arms, while, with- 
out counting the “missing,” Europe had over 8,500,000 dead 
and over 21,000,000 wounded, out of the grand total of over 
60,000,000 men who had been mobilized over there. 

The war had thus brought about a vast alteration in the 
cen tre of gravity of the political and economic world. Through 
neither fault nor prevision of our own, we had emerged on the 
far side of Armageddon with our man power scarcely touched, 
while Death had harvested the flower of almost an entire gen- 
eration in Europe. Taken as a whole, our national wealth 
had increased, whereas nation after nation abroad suffered 
economic collapse, even France never yet having been able to 
pass beyond the repudiation of four fifths of her currency value. 
From the position of a debtor nation to the extent of several 
billions, we had become the greatest creditor the world had 
ever seen, having bought back almost our entire indebtedness 
to Europe and come to hold her obligations in turn for over 
$10,000,000,000. There were other sides to the picture which 
we shall note presently, but the waves of Fate had borne us to 
this position. Unhappily they had not been the waves of gen- 
eral plenty and honest industry throughout the world, but 
waves of blood and hate and misery, and the air of the world, 
our own included, was tainted with strange new unhappinesses, 
mistrusts, dislikes, and fears. 

When the Peace Conference assembled in Paris, America 
was at the pinnacle, apparently, of her power and influence. 
Wilson, who had perhaps unwisely determined to head the 
American delegation in person, was received with a delirious 
acclaim from the ordinary people of the Allied nations such as 
had never been accorded a leader before. The American 


AMERICA REVISITS THE OLD WORLD 387 

dream, however much European statesmen or the “rich and 
wise” of our old Federalist phrase at home might scoff at it, 
had been not only a dream for a large part of the European 
masses, but one realized by sons and brothers who had emi- 
grated to the New World- The lofty idealism of Wilson’s 
various statements as to war aims and the nature of a peace 
which should usher in a happier era, and if possible banish war, 
had seemed to make the dream hover over Europe as well as 
America. The psychological atmosphere was abnormal every- 
where. Nerves had been strung to the breaking point by 
four years of the in tensest strain that civilized mankind had 
ever been called upon to bear. With the sudden release of 
the Armistice, almost anything seemed possible, even to the 
opening of the heavens and the vision of the new Jerusalem. 

Unhappily there was much more in the psychological situa- 
tion than that. Wilson had gone to Paris with the same hopes 
in his breast that had stirred Lincoln as he had pondered how 
to reunite the Union with healing and permanence^ Wilson, 
with too little appreciation of the age-long complexity of the 
European political patterns, had’ hoped for a just and a fair 
peace which should remedy old abuses and, by the establish- 
ment of the League of Nations as an integral part of it, should 
provide a new organization of humanity which might usher 
in a long reign of peace and cooperation among all the nations 
of the world. We had solemnly notified the world beforehand, 
a pledge that we kept to" the letter, that we would ask nothing 
for ourselves, either lands or indemnities, and with the aid of 
this disinterestedness Wilson hoped to plead for the new world 
order. It was a noble dream and it was disinterested, for, the 
enemy crushed, we might have made our separate peace while 
the Allies made theirs and have gone our way. Wilson elected 
instead to try to use his immense prestige for the purpose of 
securing fair play for ^11 nations, enemy and friend alike, and 
to use the desire of the common men in all of them for a better 
order to establish in Europe and the world at large the beginning 
of some such organization as might permit of the nations living 
together with the same harmony as did the American States. 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


388 

We have seen what had happened to Lincoln’s dreams for 
our own war-torn land in 1865. Possibly even had he lived, 
the politicians of his party, bent on hates and spoils, might 
have been too much for his loftier vision. Less happy than 
Lincoln, Wilson had to meet the avengers face to face. The 
very place chosen for the Conference, Paris, was the centre 
of the most virulent hatred then in Europe, and the choosing 
of it was in itself a gesture of the pride of triumph and revenge 
rather than of genuine effort toward lasting peace. The story 
of the Conference has often been told and is steadily being 
pieced together more and more coherently by the publication 
of the memoirs of those who shared in it. America had looked 
into the crater of Europe at war; now, as never before, she 
looked into the European system of diplomacy. She discovered 
the secret treaties, dividing spoils of war to the victors, entered 
into the midst of the struggle which she had been told was 
solely for self-defense and the freedom of free peoples. Wilson 
himself had done untold harm in fanning the flames of racial- 
ism and nationalism by his doctrine of “self-determination.” 
In the atmosphere of Realpditik at the Conference, the race 
became more and more one for spoils, revenge, security. Some 
wrongs were righted and many more were created. The League 
of Nations, however, was saved. 

But there was also the psychology of America to be reckoned 
with. While Wilson was negotiating with the foreign states- 
men in Pa,ris, a steady stream of American soldiers was- pass- 
ing westward back to America. These boys and men from 
the mountains of Tennessee, the farms of Iowa or Dakota, 
the orange groves of Florida or California, the villages and 
cities from the Atlantic to the Pacific, who had been swept into 
the great war machine and carried overseas against an enemy 
anywhere from three to six thousand miles from their homes, 
in a quarrel which many of them could hardly sense as being 
in any way their own, had done their job. But they had been 
homesick, more or less vague as to what it was all about, — 
except that the “world was to be made safe for democracy,” 
— and to a considerable extent had gained an unpleasant 



AMERICA REVISITS THE OLD WORLD 389 


opinion of their allies instead of a better understanding and 
sympathy regarding them. They had seen France at her worst, 
and it may as well be frankly confessed that great numbers of 
them discovered that, in spite of Lafayette, they did not like 
the French when they met them. It was by no means all the 
fault of the French. Many unavoidable circumstances made 
the conditions the worst possible under which the two nations 
should be made to appreciate each other, and a good many of 
our men who left France in 1919, vowing that they would never 
set foot in her land again, a decade later began to think they 
would rather like to see her once more. 

During the six months that the negotiations at Paris dragged 
along, America was fast turning away from Europe. The war 
has been called the “Great Adventure.” It never was that. 
For most of our millions it was merely a piece of work entirely 
out of our line which seemed to bear no relation to the normal 
course of our national life. We had no particular love for our 
allies and no hatred of the German people. In fact, of our 
soldiers who were quartered in Germany after the Armistice, 
many much preferred the Gerpians to the French. As far 
as we could see, a group of men in the Central Empires, the 
Kaiser and a few others, had brought this horror to pass, had 
attacked our ships and killed our citizens until we had had to 
go overseas and help destroy the gang. That had been done, 
and the whole affair had been^more or less unreal from the start. 
Forced against our will to break our national policy and way 
of thinking for a century, and to meddle in Europe, the feeling 
grew that we wanted to forget the whole affair. It was no- 
table that the men who had been “ across ” would not talk about 
it when they came back. They wanted to forget, and the 
easiest way to forget was not to talk even about Europe. Our 
curious attitude toward the war and our quick revulsion from it 
were exemplified in the fact that no military leader became a 
political possibility for any office of the slightest importance. 
The Revolution had given us Washington for President; the 
War of 1812, Jackson; the Mexican War, Taylor; the Civil 
War, Grant; and the Spanish War, Roosevelt. After the 


39 ° 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


World War, there was hardly even a janitor’s job for an ex- 
General. We wanted, almost in a panic, to get back to our 
problems, our familiar ways of life and familiar way of look- 
ing at America as having her own future in the New World 
and to the West, as independent of Europe altogether. 

Moreover, statistics when used nationally can be very mis- 
leading, and although it was true that the national wealth had 
been enormously increased and that the country was “pros- 
perous,” the new wealth was very unevenly distributed. Many 
of the great corporations, which we had been trying to curb 
when the war interrupted us, seemed fairly bursting with assets 
piled up by war business, and luxury was rampant, as always 
in such a period. On the other hand, high prices had played 
havoc with people dependent on investments of the sort that 
before the war had been considered most conservative, and 
with those living on salaries. Even the wage earners felt they 
had not been getting their share. During 1919, over 4,000,000 
men were on strike at one time and another, and in view of the 
colossal earnings of the United States Steel Corporation an- 
other effort was made, unsuccessfully, by the men to get recog- 
nition of their Union. While the owners had been making 
huge profits, the men had genuine grievances. In some cases 
they would have to work twenty-four hours at a time, and the 
methods used by the managers to crush the strike were unjust 
and un-American, including instrTictions to agents to provoke 
all the racial hatred possible between different group? of 
workmen. 

Unfortunately this strike, like many others of that disturbed 
period, was marred by somewhat revolutionary action, and the 
collapse of Russia, the fear of Bolshevism, and the growing 
violence of strikers led to a veritable panic in the country with 
regard to “Reds.” During the war, the government propa- 
ganda service had fed the people with stories of enemy plots 
among ourselves, some of which were true and many of which 
were not. The Espionage Act of 1917 had been used to jail 
many persons unjustly, and feeling ran high between their de- 
fenders and the panic-stricken supporters of the government. 



AMERICA REVISITS THE OLD WORLD 391 


In 1919, several Socialists legally elected to the New York State 
Legislature were refused their seats. The whole state of mind 
of the nation, including many elements in it which should have 
kept their heads, was disgraceful, but tended strongly to 
alienate us from Europe, with its Bolshevism and what was 
considered, somewhat vaguely, its sources of infection for Social- 
ism and Communism. 

The sudden end of the war had left us, so to say, emotionally 
unsatisfied, whereas it had found Europe emotionally ex- 
hausted. For two years we had been devoting ourselves with 
the energy of fever to building up a great fighting machine; 
the propaganda services had skillfully played on every nerve 
to concentrate emotion on fighting; and then, just as we were 
ready to leap in earnest at the enemies’ throats, a hand had 
suddenly pulled us back. Abnormality was bound to ensue 
from this extraordinary situation in mass psychology. The 
mob demanded sacrificial victims and found them in all who 
differed in any way from the conservative and the stereotyped. 
As news came of more and more revolutions in different Euro- 
pean countries, fear of European* entanglement grew. 

Aside from this psychology of the mass, there was the psy- 
chology of politics to be reckoned with. The Constitution 
had provided, somewhat ambiguously, that the President “shall 
have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, 
to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present 
concur.” No one knows just what is intended by “ advice,” 
but “consent” is obvious, and every treaty made by a Presi- 
dent has had to run the gauntlet of the exceedingly jealous Sena- 
tors. It had been made clear to Wilson before he went to 
France that a powerful group in the Senate would oppose any 
effort to incorporate a League of Nations in the treaty. Roose- 
velt, who had more and more been losing his political balance 
since the “Bull MooSe” campaign, had come to hate Wilson 
with a bitterness that blinded him to any good whatever from 
that Democratic source. The President quite properly, on 
the advice of his military advisers, had declined to allow Roose- 
velt to raise and command troops in France as a separate unit. 


392 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


whereupon Roosevelt had sneered that “it was a very exclu- 
sive war,” failing to see that the desire for “exclusiveness” 
was on his own part. Joining with Senator Lodge, as the two 
had joined before the Spanish War to secure Porto Rico and 
the Philippines, he worked to defeat any treaty which Wilson 
might make. Other Senators, including Borah and Harding, 
formed a group of “irreconcilables.” 

On October 25, Roosevelt had telegraphed to Lodge and a 
number of other Senators that the “Fourteen Points” which 
Wilson had announced in August as essential to a lasting peace 
were “thoroughly mischievous,” and Wilson had unwisely 
countered with the request for the election of a Democratic 
Congress. The elections took place the following week and 
the Senate became Republican by a very narrow majority, in- 
cluding Senator Newberry, whose election was vitiated by such 
gross fraud as to cause him to be unseated after his immediate 
usefulness to his party was over. Lodge became Chairman of 
the Committee on Foreign Relations. Wilson’s handling of 
the tactical political situation was bad. He appointed no 
Republican of importance on» the Peace Commission, Henry 
White not being in that category from a party standpoint. 
Above all, the President ignored the Senate by not taking a 
member of that body to Paris with him to share the negotia- 
tions. He believed that when the time came he could exert 
enough pressure either on the Senate directly or through the 
force of aroused public opinion to carry his treaty through". 

It was signed in Paris on June 28, 1919, and on July 10 Wil- 
son, who had sailed immediately for America, presented it to 
the Senate for ratification. Month after month the treaty 
was discussed in Committee and in the Senate. The reserva- 
tions proposed were unacceptable to Wilson, though they would 
probably have been accepted by the other powers in Europe. 
In early September the President started on his trip through 
the West to arouse the country. Making little impression at 
first, he was gaining ground when he suffered a stroke, and for 
months was incapacitated for public business. The country 
was left without a head, and the Senate, sixteen months after 



AMERICA REVISITS THE OLD WORLD 393 

the Armistice, finally rejected the treaty. In July 1921 a 
simple resolution was passed to the effect that “the state of 
war declared to exist between the Imperial German Govern- 
ment and the United States of America by the joint resolution 
of Congress approved April 6, 1917, is hereby declared at an 
end." The previous November the Republicans, with Hard- 
ing for President, had come into power with the astounding 
plurality of 7,000,000 votes, and this resolution was their 
method of ending the greatest war in history. It was like hear- 
ing the squeak of a timid field mouse after the thunder of battle 
had rolled away. Faced by the responsibilities of a moral 
leadership in the world such as had never before come to any 
nation, America backed out of the room frightened and 
stammering. 

The story of our present decade must be but briefly sketched. 
It might be described succinctly by saying that Harding had 
to liquidate the war ; Coolidge had quietly to liquidate the 
scandals of the Harding regime ; and Hoover is now watching 
the liquidation of the “ Coolidge prosperity." 

The official end of the war w^s hardly noticed. For many 
months we had been in the midst of the inevitable post-war 
deflation. The sudden ending of actual hostilities had left 
us with huge inventories of goods, and after a year or so the 
crash had occurred. This was quite in accord with the prec- 
edents of economic hisjory, as would also be a renewed pros- 
perity with a genuine panic of unusual proportions due about 
1927 or 1928. 

For a while, during the war, American idealism had been 
raised high under forced draft, and the Prohibition and 
Woman’s Suffrage Amendments, after they had been ratified 
by the necessary number of State legislatures, were declared 
parts of the Constitution in 1919 and 1920 respectively. Both 
had long been before'' the public as issues, but their incorpora- 
tion in the Constitution was due to the general psychology of 
the time, although the second of the Amendments would prob- 
ably have not been long in coming. With regard to the moral, 
legal, and other difficulties into which Prohibition has plunged 


394 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


us, it may be noted that it is symptomatic of the breakdown 
of genuine party government not only with us but everywhere 
that neither party has yet dared to take a strong stand on what 
is unquestionably the most discussed issue of the time. 
Largely owing to the change in our conception of government, 
according to which a representative has ceased to be expected 
to use his own mind and has become a mere mouthpiece to 
express the surmised opinions of a majority of his constituents, 
the parties have come to dodge the real issues which may be 
counted on to divide public opinion, instead of seeking for 
them. 

Senator Harding was a colorless candidate for the Presi- 
dency when put forward in 1920 , with Calvin Coolidge as his 
running mate for Vice President. Although put into the race 
by Lodge and the Old Guard, he tried to straddle on the ques- 
tions of the treaty, the League of Nations, and others having 
to do with our participation in world affairs. Avoiding every 
positive stand, he urged a return to what he termed “nor- 
malcy.” Bewildered by her new position in the world, panicky 
over the “Reds,” caught in the midst of the deflation crash, 
about the only decision that could be traced in America’s vot- 
ing was that she wanted to play safe and sit tight. Soon pros- 
perity, which is considered “normal” with us, did return, as 
might have been expected. 

The America of the beginning of the Jast decade was a very 
different one from that which entered the war. The idealism 
that had been rapidly making progress in accomplishment 
under Roosevelt and under Wilson in his first term had largely 
disappeared. A certain recklessness had taken its place. Al- 
though lynching tended happily to decrease, in other respects 
crimes of violence became more and more common. Specu- 
lation became rampant, as always in war and post-war periods. 
The campaigns to sell government bond§ during the war had 
resulted in 6 5,ooo,ocx3 persons having become the owners of 
securities. Multitudes of these became familiar with the ma- 
chinery of stock markets and quotations for the first time, and 
it is not unlikely that this fact accounted in part for the sub- 


AMERICA REVISITS THE OLD WORLD 395 

sequent widespread participations in the excited stock markets 
of 1922 to 1929. The size of personal fortunes had taken an- 
other stride forward, and the country could name billionaires 
instead of mere multimillionaires. Before the decade was over, 
Henry Ford was to have the opportunity of declining to accept 
a check for $1,000,000,000 for his interest in his motor-car 
company. 

Meanwhile he, more than any other man, had introduced 
the theory and practice of mass production and the high wage 
scale to increase the consuming power of the masses and thus 
the market for mass-produced goods. To be profitable, such 
a system called for standardized products and ever-enlarging 
demand. Various forced drafts — higher wage scales, adver- 
tising of hitherto undreamed-of proportions, “high-powered 
salesmanship,” and the partial-payment plan — were all ap- 
plied to the public in the effort to get them to buy more and 
more of the mass-produced goods of factories that had been 
geared to war production. Both the war, and mass produc- 
tion after it, had dislocated the old economic relations of classes. 
Prices had risen rapidly, upsetting the family budgets of all of 
us. Partly to protect the high wage scale of labor, partly be- 
cause of our new distrust of alien races, partly because of the 
millions who wished to emigrate from a war-desolated Europe 
to America, we had heavily restricted immigration. The task 
was beyond us to remain tlie asylum for all mankind. The 
rise-in wages and the disinclination to enter domestic service 
made a revolution in the homes of the ordinary people — pro- 
fessional and other — of moderate means. To a considerable 
extent the home ceased to function in the old way. Many 
women found the combined tasks of wife, mother, cook, and 
housemaid too many for them, and the drift into small, labor- 
saving apartments became general, when possible. 

The demand for mcJre money to meet the increasing cost and 
advancing scale of living became incessant. Hard work and 
thrift did not seern to solve the problem as well as lucky specu- 
lation. The old desire to control the great corporations in the 
interests of the American dream became changed into a desire 


396 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


to see their stocks go up so that we could make market profits 
and pay our bills. 

Perhaps the most striking change was in the position of the 
Indians, which we mention rather for its own intrinsic interest 
than for its national importance. Ten thousand of them had 
served in the war. Over a third of the total 244,000 were 
American citizens, and, owing to the discovery of gas and oil 
on the lands assigned to them and now held for them, the value 
of their property in land alone was estimated in 1923 to be over 
f 1,000,000,000. Thirty-seven thousand of them farm one 
million acres of land, and another 47,000 raise live stock worth 
138,000,000. Perhaps no other change in our amazing coun- 
try has been greater than that in the situation of its original 
owners. In the years immediately preceding 1921, they were 
spending about ^2,500,000 annually for homes, barns, and 
modern farm implements, even after they had been defrauded 
of tens of millions. 

The general restlessness of the age was best expressed in the 
universal desire for a motor car, and in California, at least, the 
aim of one to a family on the average had been achieved. 
America was on the move. Out on the old Santa F6 Trail, 
Vachel Lindsay saw it all pass by. 

Cars in a plain realistic row. 

And fair dreams fade , 

When the raw horns blow. , 

On each snapping pennant 
Abigblackname:— 

The careering city : 

Whence each car came. 

They tour from Memphis, Atlanta, Savannah, 

Tallahassee and Texarkana. 

They tour from St. Louis, Columbus, Manistee, 

They tour from Peoria, Davenport, ^Kankakee. 

Cars from Concord, Niagara, Boston, 

Cars from Topeka, Emporia, and Austin. 

Cars from Chicago, Hannibal, Cairo. 

Cars from Alton, Oswego, Toledo. 

Cars from Buffalo, Kokomo, Delphi, 

Cars from Lodi, Carmi, Loami. 


AMERICA REVISITS THE OLD WORLD 397 

Ho for Kansas, land that restores 

When houses choke us, and great books bore us! 

While 1 watch the high 
And look at the sky. 

While I watch the clouds in amazing grandeur 

Roll their legions without rain 

Over the blistering Kansas plain- 

while I sit by the milestone 

And watch the sky, 

The United States 
Goes by. ^ 

In the government of Harding, likable but weak, scandals 
piled up for which one member of his Cabinet, in which two 
future Presidents were also sitting, would later be condemned 
to State’s prison and a fine of $ 100 , 000 . But no one cared. 
We Wanted “normalcy” and money. When Harding died in 
office, Coolidge succeeded to the Presidency, and the steady 
work of paying off the national debt and of manufacturing pros- 
perity continued. We asked for nothing better than higher 
and higher prices in the stock market. We initiated confer- 
ences for reducing armaments, the last two of which accom- 
plished little or nothing. Some of the Great Powers adhered 
to our so-called Kellogg Pact to “outlaw war,” though it is 
somewhat difficult to discern just what may have been gained 
by that idealistic gesture. In international affairs our par- 
ticipation remained mucji that of the “darling daughter” who 
was dltowed to go swimming providing she “hung her clothes 
on a hickory limb and did not go near the water.” No influ- 
ential statesman dared urge our joining the League with which 
we had saddled Europe, and suggestions that we should adhere 
to the World Court for the settlement of international disputes, 
though we had formerly been forward in such movements, fell 
on deaf ears. Public opinion, at the first real touch of inter- 
national responsibility* appeared to have shut up like a “sensi- 
tive plant,” the leaves of which close together tightly at the 
touch of the human hand. 

We had accepted the great corporations, partly because we 

^ From Vachel Lindsay's ‘‘Tke Santa F6 Trail,” by permission of The Macmillan 
Company, Fablishers. 




398 THE EPIC OF AMERICA 

were making money in the rise in their stocks and partly be- 
cause we realized that the needs of modern business on a world 
scale somehow called for their existence. Our mass produc- 
tion was insisting on world markets, and our greatest industries, 
such as motor-car manufacture and moving pictures, rested in 
part on certain essentials which could only be procured in for- 
eign countries. We were trying to force our goods on every 
nation. Our great business enterprises, such as the Interna- 
tional Harvester, Standard Oil, Ford Motor, and others, were 
building plants and investing tens of millions of dollars in 
France and England and Germany and other countries. Our 
banks were opening branches in London, Paris, Buenos Aires, 
everywhere. But we still were trying to live in the frontier 
stage of thought and believed we could live to ourselves by 
saying we would. To a great extent, we had given up count- 
ing on our State Commissions of many sorts, and had come to 
realize that under modern conditions only Federal regulation 
would serve. We still insisted, however, upon dividing the 
world into water-tight compartments in spite of every evidence 
that it had become a unified organism in which each part de- 
pended upon free circulation with all other parts. Under 
President Hoover, who had been considered to be the great 
engineering mind applied to the problems of modern business 
and government, we enacted a tariff that almost staggered our- 
selves with the prohibitive height to which duties were raised, 
in spite of the fact that we insisted upon collection from other 
nations of over $11,000,000,000 in loans even the interest on 
which could only be paid by selling goods to us. 

The battle cries of Roosevelt and Wilson in the struggle to 
realize the American dream had been changed into the small- 
town Chamber of Commerce shouts for “Coolidge prosperity.” 
We were told by our leaders that a new era had dawned in which 
we were forever to lift ourselves by owr own bootstraps and 
everyone could buy whatever he chose as long as his credit held 
out with bank or salesman. The wild speculation in the stock 
market, which sucked in not only the old semi-gambling ele- 
ments but stenographers, elevator boys, barbers, every type 


AMERICA REVISITS THE OLD WORLD 399 

of individual, — even hitherto cautious men and women who 
were beginning to be unable to make both ends meet under the 
insistent demands of our “high standard of living,” — rose to 
more and more fantastic heights. When sane voices were 
raised in protest, the President or his Secretary of the Treas- 
ury would make a statement assuring the public that all was 
well. The latter, Mellon, with his wealth that was popularly 
estimated at several hundred millions, carried great weight, 
owing to his public position and presumed private shrewdness. 
When Coolidge, at the end of his second term, declined to run 
again. Hoover was elected on his promises of a still greater 
“prosperity” which was to be put on a scientific basis and to 
last forever. Poverty was to be abolished, and we were to live 
in an economic paradise. In spite of religious and other issues 
injected into the “whispering” campaign against his opponent 
“AI” Smith, — an able executive but son of an immigrant, a 
“Wet,” and a Roman Catholic, — the real issue was the con- 
tinuance of the wild speculation and of that business “pros- 
perity” which in fact had begun to crack before Hoover was 
elected, in spite of the denials of the highest officials in the 
government. , 

At length, after a few months more, the inevitable crash 
which had long been foreseen by sane business men came. 
Hoover struggled against both adversity and truth, and Mellon 
soon wrapped himself in, silence and his millions. The people 
paid, hrrd the wake of ruin was as broad as the land. The situa- 
tion was not merely American. It was world-wide. We had 
hung our clothes on the hickory limb, but it had done us no 
good. We had tried not to go near the water, and the water 
had rushed over us. It was the surge of that world panic and 
depression which was as inevitable after the great destruction 
of capital in the World War as severe weakness would be in a 
man after amputation* of both his legs. This had been pre- 
dicted for months in print by the ablest bankers in Europe and 
America while the American government had encouraged the 
college professors and stenographers and bootblacks to pay 
their way by carrying stocks on margin. 


400 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


It is as incredible that the two Presidents and the Secretary 
of the Treasury did not know the situation as it is that they 
should have deliberately deceived the people. Both horns of 
the dilemma are equally serious for them as leaders of a great 
nation. In no case could the nationj or whatever party might 
have been in power, have avoided the inevitable, but the coun- 
try need not have been advised to crowd on every rag of extra 
sail as it headed into the hurricane. We had got tired of ideal- 
ism and had been urged to place our destinies in the hands of 
the safe realists, hard-headed business men who would stand 
no nonsense about “moral issues,” of which we were told we 
had had enough, and who would be practical. Our most con- 
spicuously successful manufacturer, Mr. Ford, announced in 
his new book in 1930 that “we now know that anything which 
is economically right is also morally right. There can be no 
conflict between good economics and good morals.” As the 
successful business man would consider himself the best inter- 
preter of good economics, he thus set himself up as the best 
judge of national morals. Long ago we noted the beginning 
of the confusion in the American mind between business and 
virtue. That confusion by 1930 had gone full circle. By then 
it had become complete. If what was economically right was 
also morally right, we could surrender our souls to professors 
of economics and captains of industry. 

But, having surrendered idealism for the sake of prosperity, 
the “practical men” bankrupted us on both of them." We 
had forgotten, though no post-war leader dared to remind us 
of the fact, that it is impractical to be only “practical.” With- 
out a vision the people perish. The waste of war is always 
spiritual as well as material, and post-war decades are ever 
periods in which the fires of noble aims flicker but feebly. By 
1930 our post-war decade and our post-war prosperity were 
over. Let us hope that our post-war'materialism may also 
pass. We have yet to see what shall come, but the task clearly 
lies before us to 

Rebuild in beauty on the burnt-out coals, 

Not to the heart’s draire, but the soul’s. 



EPILOGUE 

We have now traced, in very meagre outline but let us hope 
with a reasonable emphasis on essentials for our purpose, the 
course of our story from that dateless period when savages 
roamed over our continent, coming from we know not where. 
We reached time and dates with the records of the rich but cruel 
civilization of Mexico apd Central America. We have seen 
the surprise with which the first white men were greeted when 
they landed on our islands and coasts, coming thereafter with 
increasing frequency and in larger numbers. We have seen 
the strivings and conflicts of French and English and Spanish. 
We have seen the rise of our own nation from a handful of starv- 
ing Englishmen in Virginia to a people of iao,ooo,ooo made up 
of all the races of the world. Beginning with a guard scarce 
suflicient to defend thd stockade at Jamestown against a few 
naked Indians, we grew until we were able to select from nearly 
25,000,000 men of military age such millions as we would to 
hurl back at our enemies across the sea, only nine generations 
later. A continent which scarce sufficed to maintain a half 


402 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


million savages now supports nearly two hundred and fifty 
times that number of as active and industrious people as there 
are in the world. The huge and empty land has been filled 
with homes, roads, railways, schools, colleges, hospitals, and 
all the comforts of the most advanced material civilization. 
The mere physical tasks have been stupendous and unparal- 
leled. Supplied at each important stage of advance with new 
implements of science which hastened our pace; lured by such 
rewards for haste and industry as were never offered to man 
before ; keyed to activity by a climate that makes expenditure 
of nervous energy almost a bodily necessity, we threw ourselves 
into the task of physical domination of our environment with 
an abandonment that perforce led us to discard much that we 
had started to build up in our earliest days. 

Even so, the frontier was always retreating before us, and 
sending its influence back among us in refluent waves until al- 
most yesterday. In the eighteenth century we had an estab- 
lished civilization, with stability of material and spiritual 
values. Then we began our scramble for the untold wealth 
which lay at the foot of thof rainbow. As we have gone ever 
westward, stability gave place to the constant flux in which 
we have lived since. Recently a distinguished English man 
of letters complained to me at dinner that we made too much 
of the frontier as an excuse for everything. It is not an excuse, 
but it is assuredly an explanalion. ^We let ourselves be too 
much deflected by it from the building of the civilization of 
which our forefathers laid the foundations, and the frontier 
has stretched from our doors until almost yesterday. When 
my great-grandmother, an old lady with whom I frequently 
talked as a young man, was born, the United States extended 
only to the Mississippi, without including even Florida and 
the Gulf Coast. Both my grandfathers were children when 
Thomas Jefferson, who carried our bounds out to the Rockies, 
died. When my father was a baby, the entire country south 
of Oklahoma and from the Rockies westward was still Spanish 
territory. When I was born, the Sioux and the Nez Perc4s 
were still on the warpath. I was five when tjie Southwest was 



EPILOGUE 


403 

first spanneci by the Southern Pacific, and twelve when the 
frontier was officially declared closed. 

While thus occupied with material conquest and upbuilding, 
we did not wholly lose the vision of something nobler. If we 
hastened after the pot of gold, we also saw the rainbow itself, 
and felt that it promised, as of old, a hope for mankind. In 
the realm of thought we have been practical and adaptive rather 
than original and theoretical, although it may be noted that 
to-day we stand preeminent in astronomy. In medicine we 
have conferred discoveries of inestimable value on the world, 
which we have also led along the road of many humanitarian 
reforms, such as the treatment of debtors and the insane. Until 
the reaction after the World War, we had struggled for a juster 
law of nations and for the extension of arbitration as a substi- 
tute for war in international disputes. If in arts and letters 
we have produced no men who may be claimed to rank with 
the masters of all time, we have produced a body of work with- 
out which the world would be poorer and which ranks high by 
contemporary world standards. In literature and the drama, 
to-day, there is no work being done better anywhere than in 
the United States. In the intangible realm of character, there 
is no other country that can show in the past century or 
more two men of greater nobility than Washington and 
Lincoln. 

But, after all, many of these 'things are not new, and if they 
were alLthe contribution which America had had to make, she 
would have meant only a place for more people, a spawning 
ground for more millions of the human species. In many re- 
spects, as I have not hesitated to say elsewhere, there are other 
lands in which life is easier, more stimulating, more charming 
than in raw America, for America w still raw, and unnecessarily 
so. The barbarian carelessness of the motoring millions, the 
littered roadsides, the use of our most beautiful scenery for the 
advertising of products which should be boycotted for that 
very reason, are but symptoms of our slipping down from civi- 
lized standards of life, as are also our lawlessness and corrup- 
tion, with the cynical disregard of them by the public. Many 


404 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


of these matters I have discussed elsewhere, and may again. 
Some are also European problems as well as American. Some 
are urban, without regard to international boundaries. The 
mob mentality of the city crowd everywhere is coming to be 
one of the menaces to modern civilization. The ideal of democ- 
racy and the reality of the crowd are the two sides of the shield 
of modern government. “I think our governments will remain 
virtuous . . . as long as they are chiefly agricultural; and 
this will be as long as there shall be vacant lands in any part 
of America. When they get piled upon one another in large 
cities, as in Europe, they will become corrupt as in Europe,” 
wrote Jefferson in the days of the Bourbons. 

If, as I have said, the things already listed were all we had 
had to contribute, America would have made no distinctive 
and unique gift to mankind. But there has been also the 
American dreamy that dream of a land in which life should be 
better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity 
for each according to his ability or achievement. It is a diffi- 
cult dream for the European upper classes to interpret ade- 
quately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and 
mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high 
wages merely, but a dream of a social order in which each man 
and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature 
of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others 
for what they are, regardless <5'f the fortuitous circumstances 
of birth or position. I once had an intelligent young JFsench- 
man as guest in New York, and after a few days I asked him 
what struck him most among his new impressions. Without 
hesitation he replied, “The way that everyone of every sort 
looks you right in the eye, without a thought of inequality.” 
Some time ago a foreigner who used to do some work for me, 
and who had picked up a very fair education, used occasionally 
to sit and chat with me in my study after he had finished his 
work. One day he said that such a relationship was the great 
difference between America and his homeland. There, he said, 

“ I would do my work and might get a pleasant word, but I 
could never sit and talk like this. There is a difference there 


EPILOGUE 


405 

between social grades which cannot be got over. I would not 
talk to you there as man to manj but as my employer.” 

No, the American dream that has lured tens of millions of 
all nations to our shores in the past century has not been 
a dream of merely material plenty, though that has doubdess 
counted heavily. It has been much more than that. It has 
been a dream of being able to grow to fullest development as 
man and woman, unhampered by the barriers which had slowly 
been erected in older civilizations, unrepressed by social orders 
which had developed for the benefit of classes rather than for 
the simple human being of any and every class. And that 
dream has been realized more fully in actual life here than any- 
where else, though very imperfecdy even among ourselves. 

It has been a great epic and a great dream. What, now, of 
thefuture? 

From the material standpoint, it is probable that the extreme 
depression will pass in a year or two, barring social and political 
overturn in some countries, which might delay recovery. 
I am not here concerned with the longer economic problems 
raised by the relations of world distribution and consumption 
under mass production. The problems, fundamental and of 
extreme seriousness, have been amply discussed elsewhere 
and by those more competent. But whether, in the next 
decade, we shall have again to face a furious economic pace or 
whether we shall be confronted by a marked slowing down of 
our economic machine, the chief factor in how we shall meet 
either situation is that of the American mind. One of the 
interesting questions with regard to that is whether our long 
subjection to the frontier and other American influences has 
produced a new type or merely a transient change. Can we 
hold to the good and escape from the bad ? Are the dream and 
the idealism of the frontier and the New Land inextricably 
involved with the ugly scars which have also been left on us 
by our three centuries of exploitation and conquest of the 
continent ? 

We have already tried to show how some of the scars were 
obtained ; how it was that we came to insist upon business and 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


406 

money-making and material improvement as good in them- 
selves; how they took on the aspects of moral virtues ; how 
we came to consider an unthinking optimism essential ; how 
we refused to look on the seamy and sordid realities of any 
situation in which we found ourselves ; how we regarded 
criticism as obstructive and dangerous for our new communi- 
ties; how we came to think manners undemocratic, and a 
cultivated mind a hindrance to success, a sign of inefficient 
effeminacy ; how size and statistics of material development 
came to be more important in our eyes than quality and spir- 
itual values; how in the ever-shifting advance of the frontier 
we came to lose sight of the past in hopes for the future ; how 
we forgot to livCy m the struggle to “make a living”; how 
our education tended to become utilitarian or aimless; and 
how other unfortunate traits only too notable to-day were 
developed. 

While we have been absorbed in our tasks, the world has 
also been changing. We Americans are not alone in having 
to search for a new scale and basis for values, but for several 
reasons the task is more essential for us. On the one hand, 
our transplantation to the New World and our constant 
advance over its empty expanse unsettled the old values for 
us to a far greater extent than in Europe ; and, on the other, 
the mere fact that there were no old things to be swept away 
here made us feel the full impact of the Industrial Revolution 
and the effect of machinery, when we turned to industrial life, 
to a far greater extent than in Europe, where the revolution 
originated. 

It would seem as though the time had come when this ques- 
tion of values was of prime and pressing importance for us. 
For long we have been tempted and able to ignore it. Engaged 
in the work of building cities and developing the continent, 
values for many tended to be materialized and simplified. 
When a man staked out a clearing, and saw his wife and children 
without shelter, there was no need to discuss what were the real 
values in a humane and satisfying life. The trees had to be 
chopped, the log hut built, the stumps burned, and the corn 


EPILOGUE 407 

planted. Simplification became a habit of mind and was 
carried into our lives long after the clearing had become a 
prosperous city. But such a habit of mind does not ignore 
values. It merely accepts certain ones implicitly, as does our 
most characteristic philosophy, the Pragmatism of William 
James. It will not do to say that we shall have no a priori 
standards and that the proof of the value of a thing or idea shall 
be whether it will “work.” What do we mean by its “work- 
ing”? Must we not mean that it will produce or conduce 
to some result that strikes us as desirable — that is, something 
that we have already set up in our minds as something worth 
while ? In other words, a standard or value? 

We no longer have the frontier to divert us or to absorb 
our energies. We shall steadily become a more densely popu- 
lated country in which our social ideals will have to be such 
as to give us civilized contentment. To clear the muddle 
in which our education is at present, we shall obviously have 
to define our values. Unless we can agree on what the values 
in life are, we clearly can have no goal in education, and if 
we have no goal, the discussion of methods is merely futile. 
Once the frontier stage is passed, — the acquisition of a bare 
living, and the setting up of a fair economic base, — the Ameri- 
can dream itself opens all sorts of questions as to values. It 
is easy to say a better and richer life for all men, but what is 
better and what is richer ? •> 

In tjhis respect, as in'many others, the great business leaders 
are likely to lead us astray rather than to guide us. For 
example, as promulgated by them, there is danger in the 
present popular theory of the high-wage scale. The danger 
lies in the fact that the theory is advanced not for the purpose 
of creating a better type of man by increasing his leisure and 
the opportunity for making a wise use of it, but for the sole and 
avowed purpose of increasing his powers as a “consumer.” 
He is, therefore, goaded by every possible method of pressure 
or cajolery to spend his wages in consuming goods. He is 
warned that if he does not consume to the limit, instead of 
indulging in pleasures which do not cost money, he may be 


408 THE EPIC' OF AMERICA 

deprived not only of his high wages but of any at all. He, 
like the rest of us, thus appears to be getting into a treadmill in 
which he earns, not that he may enjoy, but that he may spend, 
in order that the owners of the factories may grow richer. 

For example. Ford's fortune is often referred to as one of 
the “honestly” obtained ones. He pretends to despise money, 
and boasts of the high wages he pays and the cheapness of his 
cars, yet, either because his wages are still too low or the cars 
too high, he has accumulated ^1,000,000,000 for himself from 
his plant. This would seem to be a high price for society to 
pay even him for his services to it, while the economic lives of 
some hundreds of thousands of men and women are made 
dependent on his whim and word. 

Just as in education we have got to have some aims based on 
values before we can reform our system intelligently or learn 
in what direction to go, so with business and the American 
dream. Our democracy cannot attempt to curb, guide, or 
control the great business interests and powers unless we have 
clear notions as to the purpose in mind when we try to do so. 
If we are to regard man merely as a producer and consumer, 
then the more ruthlessly elEcient big business is, the better. 
Many of the goods consumed doubtless make man healthier, 
happier, and better even on the basis of a high scale of human 
values. But if we think of him as a human being primarily, 
and only incidentally as a consumer, then we have to consider 
what values are best or most satisfying for him as a ^uman 
being. We can attempt to r^ulate business for him not as a 
consumer but as a man, with many needs and desires with 
which he has nothing to do as a consumer. Our point of view 
will shift from efficiency and statistics to human nature. We 
shall not create a high-wage scale in order that the receiver 
will consume more, but that he may, in one way or another, 
live more abundantly, whether by enjoying those things which 
are factory-produced or those which are not. The points of 
view are entirely different, socially and economically. 

la one inaportant respect America has changed funda- 
mentally from the time of the frontier. The dd life was lonely 


EPILOGUE 


409 


and hard, but it bred a strong individualism. The farmer 
of Jefferson’s day was independent and could hold opinions 
equally so. Steadily we are tending toward becoming a 
nation of employees — whether a man gets five dollars a day 
or a hundred thousand a year. The “yes-men” are as new 
to our national life as to our vocabulary, but they are real. 
It is no longer merely the laborer or factory hand who is de- 
pendent on the whim of his employer, but men all the way up 
the economic and social scales. In the ante-bellum South 
the black slave knew better than to express his views as to 
the rights of man. To-day the appalling growth of uniformity 
and timorousness of views as to the perfection of the present 
economic system held by most men “comfortably off” as 
corporation clerks or officials is not unrelated to the possible 
loss of a job. 

Another problem is acute for us in the present extreme 
maladjustment of the intellectual worker to the present eco- 
nomic order. Just as the wage earner is told he must adjust his 
leisure pursuits to the advantage of business in his rdle of 
consumer, so there is almost irresistible economic pressure 
brought to bear on the intellectual worker to adjust his work 
to the needs of business or mass consumption. If wages are 
to go indefinitely higher, owing to mass-production possibilities 
for raising them, then the intellectual worker or artist will have 
to pay the price in the higher wages he himself pays for all 
services and in all the items of his expenses, such as rent, in 
which wages form a substantial element. His own costs thus 
rising, owing to the rising wage scale, he finds that a limited 
market for his intellectual wares no longer allows him to exist 
in a world otherwise founded on mass-production profits. 
He cannot forever pay rising mass-production costs without 
deriving for himself some form of mass-production profit. 
This would not be so' bad if mass consumption did not mean 
for the most part a distinct lowering in the quality of his 
thought and expression. If the artist or intellectual worker 
could count on a wide audience instead of a class or group, 
the effect on his own work would be vastly stimulating, but 


410 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


for that the wide audience must be capable of appreciating 
work at its highest. The theory of mass production breaks 
down as yet when applied to the things of the spirit. Merging 
of companies in huge corporations, and the production of 
low-priced products for markets of tens of millions of consumers 
for one standard brand of beans or cars, may be possible in 
the sphere of our material needs. It cannot be possible, 
however, in the realm of the mind, yet the whole tendency at 
present is in that direction. Newspapers are merging as if 
they were factories, and daily, weekly, and monthly journals 
are all becoming as dependent on mass sales as a toothpaste. 

The result is to lower the quality of thought as represented 
in them to that of the least common denominator of the minds 
of the millions of consumers. 

If the American dream is to come true and to abide with us, 
it will, at bottom, depend on the people themselves. If we 
are to achieve a richer and fuller life for all, they have got to 
know what such an achievement implies. In a modern indus- 
trial State, an economic base is essential for all. We point with 
pride to our “national income,” but the nation is only an 
aggregate of individual men and women, and when we turn 
from the single figure of total income to the incomes of individ- 
uals, we find a very marked injustice in its distribution. 
There is no reason why wealthy which is a social product, 
should not be more equitably controlled and distributed in 
the interests of society. But, unless we settle on the Values 
of life, we are likely to attack in a wrong direction and burn 
the bam to find our penny in the hay. 

Above and beyond the mere economic base, the need for a 
scale of values becomes yet greater. If we are entering on a 
period in which, not only in industry but in other departments 
of life, the mass is going to count for more and the individual 
less, and if each and all are to enjoy a richer and fuller life, the 
level of the mass has got to rise appreciably above what it is 
at present. It must either rise to a higher level of communal 
life or drag that life down to its own, in political leadership, 
and in the arts and letters. There is no use in accusing America 


EPILOGUE 


411 


of being a “Babbitt Warren.” The top and bottom are 
spiritually and intellectually nearer together in America than 
in most countries, but there are plenty of Babbitts eyerywhere. 
“Main Street” is the longest in the world, for it encircles the 
globe. It is an American name, but not an American thorough- 
fare. One can suffocate in an English cathedral town or a 
French provincial city as well as in Zenith. That is not the 
point. 

The point is that if we are to have a rich and full life in which 
all are to share and play their parts, if the American dream 
is to be a reality, our communal spiritual and intellectual life 
must be distinctly higher than elsewhere, where classes and 
groups have their separate interests, habits, markets, arts, 
and lives. If the dream is not to prove possible of fulfillment, 
we might as well become stark realists, become once more 
class-conscious, and struggle as individuals or classes against 
one another. If it is to come true, those on top, financially, 
intellectually, or otherwise, have got to devote themselves 
to the “Great Society,” and those who are below in the scale 
have got to strive to risfe, not merely economically, but cul- 
turally. We cannot become a great democracy by giving 
ourselves up as individuals to selfishness, physical comfort, 
and cheap amusements. The very foundation of the American 
dream of a better and richer life for all is that all, in varying 
degrees, shall be capable oF wanting to share in it. It can 
never be wrought into a reality by cheap people or by “keeping 
up with the Joneses.” There is nothing whatever in a fortune 
merely in itself or in a man merely in himself. It all depends 
on what is made of each. Lincoln was not great because he 
was born in a log cabin, but because he got out of it — that is, 
because he rose above the poverty, ignorance, lack of ambition, 
shiftlessness of character, contentment with mean things and 
low aims which kept so many thousands in the huts where they 
were born. 

If we are to make the dream come true we must all work 
together, no longer to build bigger, but to build better. There 
is a time for quantity and a time for quality. There is a time 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


412 

when quantity may become a menace and the law of diminish- 
ing returns begins to operate, but not so with quality. By 
working together I do not mean another organization, of which 
the land is as full as was Kansas of grasshoppers. I mean a 
genuine individual search and striving for the abiding values 
of life. In a country as big as America it is as impossible to 
prophesy as it is to generalize, without being tripped up, but 
it seems to me that there is room for hope as well as mistrust. 
The epic loses all its glory without the ^eam. The statistics 
of size, population, and wealth would mean nothing to me 
unless I could still believe in the dream. 

America is yet “The Land of Contrasts,” as it was called 
in one of the best books written about us, years ago. One day 
a man from Oklahoma depresses us by yawping about it in 
such a way as to give the impression that there is nothing in 
that young State but oil wells and millionaires, and the next 
day one gets from the University there its excellent quarterly 
critical list of all the most recent books published in France, 
Spain, Germany, and Italy, with every indication of the be- 
ginning of an active intellectaial life and an intelligent play 
of thought over the ideas of the other side of the world. 

There is no better omen of hope than the sane and sober 
criticism of those tendencies in our civilization which call for 
rigorous examination. In that respect we are distincdy pass- 
ing out of the frontier phase. Our life calls for such exami- 
nation, as does that of every nation to-day, but because we 
are concerned with the evil symptoms it would be absurd to 
forget the good. It would be as uncritical to write the history 
of our past in terms of Morton of Merrymount, Benedict 
Arnold, “Billy the Kid,” Thaddeus Stevens, Jay Gould, 
P. T. Barnum, Brigham Young, Tom Lawson, and others 
who could be gathered together to make an extraordinary 
jumble of an incomprehensible national story, as it would be 
to write the past wholly in terms of John Winthrop, Wash- 
ington, John Quincy Adams, Jefferson, Lincoln, Emerson, 
Edison, General Gorgas, and others to afford an equally untrue 
picture. 


EPILOGUE 


413 


Thenation to-day is no more all made up of Babbitts (though 
there are enough of therq) than it is of young poets. There 
is a healthy stirring of the deeps, particularly among the 
younger men and women, who are growing determined that 
they are not to function solely as consumers for the benefit 
of business, but intend to lead sane and civilized lives. When 
one thinks of the prostitution of the moving-picture industry, 
which might have developed a great art, one can turn from 
that to the movements everywhere through the country for 
the small theatre and the creation of folk drama, the collecting 
of our folk poetry, which was almost unknown to exist a gen- 
eration ago, and other hopeful signs of an awakening culture 
deriving straight and naturally from our own soil and past. 
How far the conflicting good can win against the evil is our 
problem. It is not a cheering thought to figure the number 
of people who are thrilled nightly by a close-up kiss on ten 
thousand screens compared with the number who see a play 
of O’NeiU’s. But, on the other hand, we need not forget that 
a country that produced last year 1,500,000 Fords, which after 
their short day will in considerable numbers add to the litter 
along our country lanes as abandoned chassis, could also pro- 
duce perhaps the finest example of sculpture in the last half 
century. We can contrast the spirit manifested in the accumu- 
lation of the Rockefeller fortune with the spirit now displayed 
in its distribution. ’’ 

Like the country roads, our whole national life is yet cluttered 
up with the disorderly remnants of our frontier experience, 
and all help should be given to those who are honestly trying 
to clean up either the one or the other. But the frontier also 
left us our American dream, which is being wrought out in 
many hearts and many institutions. 

Among the latter I often think that the one which best 
exemplifies the dream is the greatest library in this land of 
libraries, the Library of Congress. I take, for the most part, 
but little interest in the great gifts and Foundations of men 
who have incomes they cannot possibly spend, and investments 
that roil like avalanches. They merely return, not seldom 


414 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


unwisely, a part of their wealth to that society without which 
they could not have made it, and which too often they have 
plundered in the making. That is chiefly evidence of malad- 
justment in our economic system. A system that steadily 
increases the gulf between the ordinary man and the super-rich, 
that permits the resources of society to be gathered into personal 
fortunes that afford their owners millions of income a year, 
with only the chance that here and there a few may be moved 
to confer some of their surplus upon the public in ways chosen 
wholly by themselves, is assuredly a wasteful and unjust 
system. It is, perhaps, as inimical as anything could be to 
the American dream. I do not belittle the generosity or public 
spirit of certain men. It is the system that as yet is at fault. 
Nor is it likely to be voluntarily altered by those who benefit 
most by it. No ruling class has ever willingly abdicated. 
Democracy can never be saved, and would not be worth saving, 
unless it can save itself. 

The Library of Congress, however, has come straight from 
the heart of democracy, as it has been taken to it, and I here 
use it as a symbol of what democra'cy can accomplish on its 
own behalf. Many have made gifts to it, but it was created 
by ourselves through Congress, which has steadily and in- 
creasingly shown itself generous and understanding toward it. 
Founded and built by the people, it is for the people. Anyone 
who has used the great collections of Europe, with their re- 
strictions and red tape and difficulty of access, praises God for 
American democracy when he enters the stacks of the Library 
of Congress. 

But there is more to the Library of Congress for the American 
dream than merely the wise appropriation of public money. 
There is the public itself, in two of its aspects. The Library 
of Congress could not have become what it is to-day, with all 
the generous aid of Congress, without such a citizen as Dr. 
Herbert Putnam at the directing head of it. He and his staff 
have devoted their lives to making the four million and more 
of books and pamphlets serve the public to a degree that 
cannot be approached by any similar great institution in the 


EPILOGUE 


415 


Old World. Then there is the public that uses these facil- 
ities. As one looks down on the general reading room, which 
alone contains ten thousand volumes which may be read 
without even the asking, one sees the seats filled with silent 
readers, old and young, rich and poor, black and white, the 
executive and the laborer, the general and the private, the 
noted scholar and the schoolboy, all reading at their own 
library provided by their own democracy. It has always 
seemed to me to be a perfect working out in a concrete ex- 
ample of the American dream — the means provided by the 
accumulated resources of the people themselves, a public in- 
telligent enough to use them, and men of high distinction, 
themselves a part of the great democracy, devoting themselves 
to the good of the whole, uncloistered. 

It seems to me that it can be only in some such way, carried 
out in all departments of our national life, that the American 
dream can be wrought into an abiding reality. I have little 
trust in the wise paternalism of politicians or the infinite wisdom 
of business leaders. We can look neither to the government 
nor to the heads of the great corporations to guide us into the 
paths of a satisfying and humane existence as a great nation 
unless we, as multitudinous individuals, develop some greatness 
in our own individual souls. Until countless men and women 
have decided in their own ^ hearts, through experience and 
perhaps disillusion, wh^t is a genuinely satisfying life, a “good 
life” ih the old Greek sense, we need look to neither political 
nor business leaders. Under our political system it is useless, 
save by the rarest of happy accidents, to expect a politician 
to rise higher than the source of his power. So long also as 
we are ourselves content with a mere extension of the material 
basis of existence, with the multiplying of our material pos- 
sessions, it is absurd to think that the men who can utilize 
that public attitude for the gaining of infinite wealth and 
power for themselves will abandon both to become spiritual 
leaders of a democracy that despises spiritual things. Just 
so long as wealth and power are our sole badges of success, so 
long will ambitious men strive to attain them. 


THE EPIC OF AMERICA 


416 

The prospect is discouraging to-day, but not hopeless. 
As we compare America in 1931 with the America of 1912 it 
seems as though we had slipped a long way backwards. But 
that period is short, after all, and the whole world has been 
going through the fires of HeU. There are not a few signs of 
promise now in the sky, signs that the peoples themselves are 
beginning once again to crave something more than is vouch- 
safed to them in the toils and toys of the mass-production age. 
They are beginning to realize that, because a man is born with 
a particular knack for gathering in vast aggregates of money 
and power for himself, he may not on that account be the 
wisest leader to follow nor the best fitted to propound a sane 
philosophy of life. We have a long and arduous road to travel 
if we are to realize our American dream in the life of our nation, 
but if we fail, there is nothing left but the old eternal round. 
The alternative is the failure of self-government, the failure 
of the common man to rise to full stature, the failure of all 
that the American dream has held of hope and promise for 
mankind. 

That dream was not the product of a solitary thinker. It 
evolved from the hearts and burdened souls of many millions, 
who have come to us from all nations. If some of them appear 
to us to have too great faith, we know not yet to what faith 
may attain, and may hearken to the words of one of them, 
Mary An tin, a young immigrant girl, who came to us from 
Russia, a child out of “the Middle Ages,” as she sayS, Into 
our twentieth century. Sitting on the steps of the Boston 
Public Library, where the treasures of the whole of human 
thought had been opened to her, she wrote, “This is my latest 
home, and it invites me to a glad new life. The endless ages 
have indeed throbbed through my blood, but a new rhythm 
dances in my veins. My spirit is not tied to the monumental 
past, any more than my feet were bound to my grandfather’s 
house below the hiU. The past was only my cradle, and now 
it cannot hold me, because I am grown too big; just as the 
little house in Polotzk, once my home, has now become a toy 
of memory, as I move about at will in the wide spaces of this 



EPILOGUE 


417 



splendid palace, whose shadow covers acres. No! It is not I 
that belong to the past, but the past that belongs to me. 
America is the youngest of the nations, and inherits all that 
went before in history. And I am the youngest of America’s 
children, and into my hands is given all her priceless heritage, 
to the last white star espied through the telescope, to the last 
great thought of the philosopher. Mine is the whole majestic 
past, and mine is the shining future.” 





INDEX 


Abbey, Edwin A., 326, 

Abilene, Kansas, 288-291, 293, 295. 

Abolitionists, 200, 203, 204, 247, 251- 
253, 257, 283. 

Adams, Charles Francis, Minister to 
England, failed to understand or appre- 
ciate Lincoln, 265. 

Adams, Charles Francis, president of 
Union Pacific Railroad, quoted on 
business leaders, 344. 

Adams, Henry, 265, 324, 332. 

Adams, John, 64, 84, 90-92, 220, 336; 
on^ “writs of assistance,*' 79; defends 
British officer, 84; quoted, 132; be- 
comes President, 133; his foreign 
policy, 133, 134; acts of his adminis- 
tration, 134; appoints “midnight 
judges,” 136. ; 

Adams, John Quincy, on Missouri ^Com- 
promise, 161 ; deals with international 
complications, 167; in election of 
1824, 169, 170; chosen President, 170; 
as President, 170; defeated in 1828, 
170, 171; a devoted patriot, 173; his 
Americanism, 174; foresaw the evils 
of too rapid growth, 194, 195 ; believed 
the incorporation within the Union of 
a foreign sovereign state to be uncotJ. 
stitutional, 237. ^ 

Adams, Samuel, 81-91. 

Agrarianism. See Farmers. 

Agriculture, prosperity of, during the 
Civil War, 274, 27 5. See also Farmers. 

Alabama, cotton production of, 1 29; 
admitted as a State, 155 ; secession of, 

257* 

Alabama claims, arbitration of, 271. 

Alamo, the, 209. 

Alaska, acquired by United States, 361. 

Alien and Sedition Acts, 134. 

Allen, James Lane, 326. 

Alta California^ San Francisco journal, 
232. , . ■ 

Altgeld, Governor, 320. 

Amendments to the Constitution, the 
Fourteenth,^ 285, 286 ; the Fifteenth, 
285; the Sixteenth, 365; the Seven- 


America, secedes from Europe, 14 c : 
sumrnary of the story of, 401, 402, 406 ; 
contributions of, 403-405 ; the land of 
contrasts, 412, 413. 

American continent, in prehistoric times, 
limits of 3 ; structure of, 3-5 ; scenery 
Ob 5, 6; climate of, 5, 6; precious 
stones and metals of, 6; animals of, 6 ; 
inhabitants of, 6-9; Spanish explora- 
tions and settlements in, 11-21; early 
attempts of French to colonize, 18; 

English to colonize, 
lo ;^ the settlement of, 25-46. 

American dream, 404, 405, 410-416. 

American Fur Company, 210. 

American Revolution, not to be confused 
with American Revolutionary War, 

- 102, 105. ^ 

“American System,” Clay’s, i68, 169, 

• 173, 180. 

Amencan traits, 183-188, 215-220, 242, 

Americanism, 174. 

Ames, Oakes, Congressman, 278. 

Amherst, Jeffrey, Lord, 76. 

Andrews Pres. Elisha B., 324, 332. 

Andr^, Sir Edmund, Governor, 48- 
Anti-Federalist Party, 1 10. 

Anti-Saloon League, 360. 

Antietam, battle of 263, 

Antin, Mary, 416, 417. 

Ap>pomattox,^ Lee's surrender at, 263, 268. 

^75 245 ; acquired by 
United ^States, 230; admitted as a 
State, 361. 

Arkansas, admitted as a State, 214; 

secession of, 257. 

Armada, Spanish, 2i_, 26. 

Assembles, in American colonies, 47-40. 

Astor, John J., his wealth, 132, 178, 185, 
224, 315- and the Indians, I42; 
reports on city administration of New 
York, 279. 

Austin, Moses, 208. 

Austin, Stephen F., 208. 



420 


INDEX 


Austrian Succession, War of the, 73* 
Aztecs, 3, 8, 9; kingdom of, I3”I5. 

Baer, George F., 347, 3 
Balboa, discovers the Pacific, 1 1. 

Bank of the United States, the second, 
167 ; Jackson’s war on, 212. 

Banks, small, in panic of 1819, 1 51; 

failure of, in New York City, 279. 
Bargemen, song of, 164, 165. 

Bay Psalm Book, JQ. 

Bean, Capt, William, 67. 

Beauregard, Gen. P. G. T,, 262/ 
Beckmans, the, 64. 

Belgium, invasion of, 371. 

Bermuda, 30. 

^‘Bigger and better,” 2 i6~2i8. 

‘‘Black Friday,” 281, ^ ^ 

Black Hawk, Indian rising under, 207. 
Blackbeard, pirate, 51* 

“Blue laws,” 36. 

Boatmen, 162, 163. 

Bolshevism,^ 390, 391. 

Boone, Daniel, 67. ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ 

“ Boosting,” 217. _ 

Borah, Senator William Edgar, 392. 
“Bosses,” 183. 

Boston, in 1700, 46 ; in J763, 5^, 58, 68 ; 
sentiment in, regarding the Revolu- 
tionary War, 91 ; signs of intellectual 
awakening in, 1 59 ; literary group of, 

Boston Marine Society, 182. 

Boston Massacre, 84. 

“Bounty jumping,” 261. 

Bowdoin, James, of Boston, 98. 

Bowie, Coi. James, 209, 

Boxer Rebellion, 356. 

Braddock, Gen* Edward, his campaign, 

' 7 * 5 *.. 

Bradford, William, leader and historian 
of Plymouth Colony, 28, 29, 227. 
Brooks, Preston, his assault on Sumner, 
247. 

Brown, Justice Henry B., 340. 

Brown, John, 247, 248. ^ 

Brown College (University), 68. 

Bryan, William Jennings, 81, 310, 330, 
33 1 > 349; his Cross of Gold speech, 
331 ; his campaign for the Presidency, 
331, 332. 

Bryant, William Cullen, 159, 

Bryce, James, Lord, 369; on the Ameri- 
can Constitution, 165. 

Buchanan, James, elected President, 247. 
“Buckskins,” 66. 

“Bull Moose” Party, 361, 391. 

Bull Run, battle of (July 21, 1861), 261, 
262. 

Burgoyne, Gen. John, 91. 


Burlington, Iowa, 214* 

Burnet, Governor, of New York, 48, 57, 
Burr, Aaron, in presidential election of 
1800, 136; kills Hamilton in duel, 140. 
Business, the American’s preoccupation 
with, 185-192 ; success in, given a 
moral value, 1 91-194, 224, 225, 400; 
leaders in, 344-347. 

Byrd family, 54. 

Cabeza de Vaca, 15, 1 6. 

Cabinet scandals, 397. 

Cable, George W., 327. 

Cabot, John, ii. 

Cabrilio, in California, 17. 

Calhoun, John C., advocates war with 
England, 143 ; his toast at Jefferson 
birthday dinner, 203; in debate on 
slavery, 239, 240. 

California, settlement of, 33 ; Polk plans 
to obtain, 229, 230; American settlers 
in, revolt of, 230; acquired by United 
States, 230; discovery of gold in, 231- 
233 ; question of admission of, 239 ; 
admitted as free State, 245. 

Camp meetings, 127, 128. 

Canada, efforts of English and colonials 
to conquer, 75. 

Canal zone, 346, 357. 

Canals, 163-165. 

Capital and labor, 52, 60, 6x, 13 1, 176- 
182^309,310. 

Capitalism, entrenchment of, 297, 320, 
321. 

Carey, Mathew, 158. 

Carnegie, Andrew, 345, 366. 
‘^Carpetbaggers,” 286. 

Carroll, Charles, of Maryland, 62, 64. 
Cartagena expedition of 1741, 75, 76. 
Carter, Landon, 91, 

Cartier, Jacques, 15. 

Catholic churches, burning of, 2C3.' 

Cattle, 291-293. 

Caucus, Congressional, nomination by, 
■',227. 

Cavalier song, 70. 

Cavell, Nurse, 370. 

Cervera, Admiral Pascual, 337* 

Chamber of Commerce, Cfnited States, 
360. 

Channing, Dr. William E., 159, 198. 
Charleston, South Carolina, in 1700, 46; 

a musical centre, 68. 

Chesapeake and Leopard^ 140, 

Chicago, III, 214, 240; World’s Fair at, 
327, 328. 

Chichester, Admiral, 338. 

China, the “open door” in, 356; Boxer 
Rebellion, 356; indemnity returned to, 
by United States, 356* 


INDEX 


421 


Chisholm Trail, 291. 

Choate, Joseph, 323. 

Ghristianit)^, introduced by Spaniards 
into Mexico, 19. 

Church and State, 104, 158. 

Cibola, Seven Cities of, 17. 

Cifuentes, Rodrigo de, leader of Mexican 
school of art, 20. 

Cincinnati, Ohio, 138, 311. 

Cities, demoralization of the larger, 183; 
rise of, from towns, 214; growth of, 
275 ; corruption in, 279, 280; in the 
West, 294. 

Citizen as ruler, 22^ 225. 

Civil War, causes of, 250-255 ; secession, 
256-258 ; feelings of the South, 258- 
260 ; the course of, 260-264, ^ 268 ; 
legacies of, 264; effects of, on inter- 
national relations of United States, 
270-273; and the Declaration of 
Independence, 273, 274; increase of 
prosperity of North and West during, 
274, 275; condition of the South at 
the close of, 275, 276. 

Civilization, the triple advance of, 123 ; 
the new American type of (1830-1850), 
183-196. 

Class distinction, absence of, in America, 
185. 

Clay, Henry, advocates war with Eng- 
land, 143; his economic policy, 168, 
169, 173, 180; in election of 1824 170; 
in election of 1S44, 228; his compro- 
mise measures (1850), 239, 240, 245. 

Clayton Act, 364. 

Clemens, Samuel L. (Mark Twain), 221 

327,333‘ ^ 

Clermont, the, 162. 

Cleveland, Grover, elected President 
303 ; reelection of, 318; measures 04 
319 ; settles Pullman strike, 320. 

Cliff dtrel!ers,” 7f^ ^ 

Clinton, Gov. De Witt, 163, 165, 

Coal strike of 1902, 346, 35 1-3 53. 

Cceur d*Al8ne strike, 319. 

Colombia, Roosevelt’s dealings with, 356, 
357; granted remuneration by United 
States, 357. / 

Colonial administration, changed theory 
of, after the Seven Years’ War, 73-75. 

Colonies, English, Virginia, 27, 28, 30; 
Plymouth, 28-30 ; Massachusetts Bay, 
29, 31; in 1 640, 31,32; religious sects 
in, 32; Indian Wars in, 35;^ con- 
ditions of life in, 37, 38 ; labor in, 37, 
38,51,53.58; wages in, 38; develop- 
ment of democratic feeling and outlook 
in, 38-41 ; government in, 38, 40, 47- 
49 ; culture in, 42-44 ; in 1 700, 45, 46 ; 
products of, 48; crime in, 49; dis- 


respect for laws in, 48-50; the civiliza- 
tion in (1763), 50-71; violence in, 51; 
differentiation between various groups 
of, 51, 52, 60;^ Southern type of life, 53- 
56; type of life of the middle colonies, 
56, 57; New England type of life, 57- 
60; under the old and the new im- 
perialism, 73-75; become more self- 
conscious, 75, 76; results to, of the 
Seven Years’ War, 76, 77; after the 
Revolutionary War, 93, 94; constitu- 
tions of, 103, 104, See also Revolu- 
tionary War. 

Colonies, French, government in, 39, 41; 
culture in, 41. 

Colonies, Spanish, government in, 39, 41 ; 
culture in, 42. 

Colonists, English, causes of their migra- 
tion to America, 31, 36, 37; classes 
from which they came, 36, 37, 49 ; for- 
bidden by England to cross the frontier, 
77, See also Colonies, English. 

Colorado, acquired by the United States, 
230; gold discovered in, 243. 

Colorado River, discovery of, 17.^ 

Columbus, Christopher, his arrival in 
western hemisphere, 10, ix ; quoted on 
gold, 12; always believed that he had 
reached the Orient, 26. ^ 

Columbus, Diego, explorations of, 12. 

Commerce and Labor, Department of, 
organization of, 351. 

Common man, Jefferson’s belief in, 

134; aroused against the Federalist 
Party, 135 ; and John Quincy Adams, 
174; a great figure in the American 
drama, 174. 

Communism, 391. 

Competition of American life, 195. 

Comstock Lode, 275. 

Concord, Mass., fight at, 88. 

Confederacy, the Southern, formed, 257. 
See also Revolutionary War. 

Confederation, the, conditions under, 96- 
loi; western land claims surrendered 
to, 105 ; Northwest Ordinance passed 
by Congress of, 105. 

Congregationalism, loses its hold in New 
England, 158, 159. ^ 

Connecticut, Hooker in, 41 ; government 
of, 48; laws in, 49; Fundamental 
Orders of, xoo; governed by a few 
families, 132, 155; separation of 
Church and State in, 158. 

Connecticut Valley, 68. 

Conservation, policy of, 355. 

Constitution and Guerrihe, 143. 

Constitution of the United States, Con- 
vention for framing a National, held at 
Philadelphia (1787), loi, 102; con- 


4^2 


INDEX 


Constitution of the United States iCon- 
tinned) 

flicting views held in Convention, I07j 
loB; completion of, io8, 109; sub- 
mitted to people for ratification, 109; 
adopted, iio; the Convention device, 
110; as expounded in MarshalFs 
opinions, 139, 165; "‘loose” and 

‘"strict” construction of,^ 166; silent 
as to acquisition of foreign territory 
237; a compromise, 321 ; stretching 
329, See also Amendments to the 
Constitution ; Sujjreme Court. 
Constitutions, colonial, 103, 104; State, 

“Continental, not worth a,” 98. 
Contraband, the new (in World War), 

Convention, national, nomination by, 

Coolidge, Calvin, President, 393, 394, 
^ 397 - 399 ' 

Cooper, James Fenimore, 159, 197, 

Copley, John S., painter, 68. 

Cornbury, Edward Hyde, Lord, Governor 
of New York, 48, 64. 

Coronadoj Francisco Vasquez de, his 
expedition, 17. 

Corporations, rise of, 281, 297, 2^8, 342, 
343; Supreme Court decisions in favor 
of, 32a, 323, 329; groups and indi- 
viduals in control of, 343-347* See 
also Trusts. ** 

Corruption, business and political, 278-* 
283, 316. 

Cortes, Herndn, his conquest of Mexico, 
12-15. 

Cotton, American, culture of, 112; and 
the cotton gin, 113, 129, 159; at the 
end of the War of 1812, 152; in 1821, 
153; an era of prosperity in, 159, 160 ; 
between 1820 and 7829, 160. 

Cotton, Rev. John, his view of democracy, 

^ 39 - 

Cotton Exposition at Atlanta (1881), 328. 
Cotton gin, invention of, 113; creates 
new economic order, 120, 156. 

Councils, in American colonies, 48. 
Cowboys, 292, 293 ; songs of, 292. 

Crane, Robert Bruce, 326. 

Crawford, William H., in election of 1824, 
169,170. 

CrSdit MohiUer scBnddi, T]^, 

Crimean War, 240. 

""Croatan,” 18. 

Crockett, Davy, 209. 

Cuba, arrival of Columbus at, 1 1 ; and 
the Spani-sh-American War, 334-338. 
Culture, in America, lowest period of, 43 ; 
became more and more meagre as the 


frontier receded, 122, 123. See also 
Colonies. 

Cumberland Road, 162, 167, 202. 
Currency Act of 1900, 334. 

Dakotas, the, 311. 

Dare, Virginia, birth of, 18. 

Darien, ii. 

Dartmouth College, 68« 

Daughters of the Revolution, 92. 
Davenport, Iowa, 214. 

Davis, Jefferson, chosen President of the 
Confederate States of America, 257; 
proposal that he be hung, 268- 
Debs, Eugene Victor, 322, 323, 329. 
Declaration of Independence (1776), 88, 
89, 100, no, 135, 161, 236, 321, 322, 
339> 347 ; and the Civil War, 273, 274 ; 
celebration of centenary of, 301. 
Decrees against American commerce, 
140, X42, X43* 

Deerfield, Mass., massacre at, 51. 

De Lancey, James, his lands, 105. 

De Le6n, Ponce, his expedition to Florida, 

' 12. ' 

Democracy, early colonists^ view of, 38, 
39; development of feeling for, in the 
colonies, 38-41, 88; and the Declara- 
tion of Independence, 895 growth of 
idea of, to the adoption of the Federal 
Constitution, 90, 100, 102, 103 ; in State 
consrtitutions, 104 ; economic, 104, 
105; and Northwest Territory, 106; 
economic, breaking down of, in the 
North, 158; economic, in the West, 
161; economic, and political de- 
mocracy, 177; at its noblest, 267; 
influence of, on passing the frontier, 
309; the revolt or the West was a push 
#*along the line of, 323, 324; and the 
Librarjt of Congress, 414, 41 5. 
Democratic Party, 249, 283, 2^7,-300- 
^303,330. 

Denver, CoL, 244. 

Desert, Great American, 207, 210, 21 1, 
288-291, 293, 294. 

De Soto, Hernando, his expedition, 16, 

■ '^ 7 * . 

Detroit, Mich., settled by French, 32, 1 20. 
Dewey, Admiral George, 337, 356. . 

Dickinsom John, member of Constitu- 
tional Convention (17S7), 102. 

Biederich, Admiral, 338. 

Dingley Tariff, 334. 

Doneison, Fort, surrender of^ 262. 

Douglas, Stephen A., his Kansas- 
Nebraska Bill, 245, 246; elected 
Senator, 249. 

Drake, Sir Francis, 18, 26. 

Dred Scott decision, 247. 


INDEX 


4^3 


Drew, Daniel, aSo, 315. 

Duane ^ the, of Pittsburgh, 115. 

Dubuque, Iowa, 214. 

Dulany, of Maryland, 62, 64. 

Duluth, Minn., settled by French, 32. 
Dwight, Rev. Timothy, predictions of, 
relative to election of Jefferson, 137; 
on the pioneers, 155. 


East, the, 129; industrialization of, 329. 
See also New England. 

East India Company, granted monopoly 
for selling tea in America, 87. 

'EconomicSy laissez faire in, i8x. 

Education, in English colonies, 43 ; free, 
I95> 19b; false ideal of, 224; in the 
West, 295-297 ; emergence of uni- 
versity life from high-school stage, 301 ; 
breaking down of, 349. 

Electoral Commission, 302. 

Eliot, Charles W., 301. 

Eliot, Rev. John, his translation of the 
Bible, 355 and the Indians, 35. 

Emancipation of slaves, in the North, ^ 104. 
See also Emancipation Proclamation. 

Emancipation Proclamation, 266, 271. 

Embargo, Jefferson*s policy of, 140; 
nullified by New England, 143. 

Emerson,^ Ralph Waldo, quoted, 132, 
220; in the history of American 
thought, 196-199, 234, 325 ; his pssays^ 
272. 

Emigrant Aid, 247. 

Emigration, westward, forbidden ,by 
England (1763), 105; cancellation of 
restriction against, 105; after the 
Revolution, 1 14, 115; after the War of 
1812, 148-152; character of, 148, 151, 
152; to T exas, 153; psychological 
traits flowing from, 241-243. 

“Enjpir^ Builders,'' 346. ^ * 

Endicott, John, 31. 

England, conditions in, in seventeenth 
century, 30; causes of emigration from, 
31; her acquisitions in America by 
Treaty of Paris (1763), 72; forbids 
immigration of colonists to Western 
country, 77; traditional hostility of 
America toward, 93, 94, 369> 37o; 
refuses to relinquish Northwestern 
country, 117; at war with France, 133, 
140-142; her interference with Amer- 
ican commerce, 1 40-143 ; war of 
United States with (War of 1812), 1^- 
146; industrial revolution in, 

See also 

English,^ the, early explorations, ^ in 
America, 1 1 ; on west coast of America, 
18 ; their attempts to colonize America, 
18; their hatred of the Spaniards, 26 ; 


defeat Spanish Armada^ 26 ; colonies 
of, 27-32; causes of their migration to 
America, 3 1 , 36, 37 ; ^ their colonizing 
methods compared with those of the 
French and the Spaniards, 34, 35 ; 
classes from which the colonists came, 
36, 37 ; opinion ofj as between North 
and South, in the Civil War, 271 ; effect 
of Civil War on opinion of, 272. See 
Colonies, English. 

English government, acts of, during Civil 
War, 271. 

“Entangling alliances,” 118. 

Erie Canal, 163-165. 

Espionage Act of 1917, 390. 

“Essex Junto,” I33>T34- 

Everett, Edward, his speech at Gettys- 
burg, 267, 268. 

Executive, American view of, 49. 

Fallen Timbers, battle of, 118. 

Fanaticism, 283. 

“Far West,” 231, 233. 

Farmers, representative of the great 
American interest, 136; increased 
difficulties for (1890), 317, 318; and 
capitalists, struggle between, 320. 

Farmers' Alliance, 323. 

Farragut, Commodore David G., 262, 

Federal government, grows Hamiltonian 
in character, 165; powers of, extended 

► by Marshall, 165. 

Federal Reserve Act, 36^, 372, 

Federal Trade Commission, 364. 

Federalist^ They 110, 

Federalist Party, 1 10, 135, 136; collapse 
of, 146. 

Federalists, howl for war, 138 ; and Hart- 
ford Convention, 144; fight against 
upbuilding of the West, 147. 

Fisk, James, 280, 281. 

Fitch, John, his steam boat^ 162. 

Fitzhugh, William^ in Virginia, 61. 

Fletcher, Benjamin, Governor of New 
York, 64. 

Florida, Spaniards in, 12, 15, 16, 18; 
Jackson marches into, 144, 173; ad- 
mitted as a State, 214; secession of, 
257 ; disputed returns from, in election 
of 187^ 302. 

Florida, East, acquired by United States, 
170. 

Florida, West, acquired by United States, 
14^. 

Floriaas, the, doubt as to cession of, 140. 

Ford, Henry, ^ 395, 400; his fortune, 408. 

Ford, Worthington C., chief of Bureau of 
Statistics, 334- 

Fordi Motor, 39S. 

Forest lands, 355. 


4H 


INDEX 


Fortunes, large, 315 ; and public gifts. 

All, 4.I4. 

.**Fortylmers”23i. 

‘‘Fourteen Points,” the, 3p2, 

France, renounces all claim to the New 
World, 70, 72; supports colonists in 
American Reyolutionary War, 91; 
sentimental friendship of America for, 
93) 3^9; at war with England, 133, 
140-142; trouble with, in Adams's 
administration, 133, 134; sells Louisi- 
ana to United States, 139; her inter-, 
ference with American commerce, 140- 
143. ^ a/so World War. 

Franklin, Benjamin, quoted, 67; bis 
experiments in electricity,^ 68; typical 
of American culture^ at its best, 69; 
member of Constitutional Convention, 
102. 

Frederick, Maryland, 64. 

Freedom of the seas, doctrine of, 372. 

Freeman, Mary Wilkins, 326. 

Fremont, J. C., in election of 1856, 247. 

French,^ the, St. Lawrence explored by, 
15; in Florida^ 18; settlements of, 
32 ; missions of, 32 and Indians, 32 ; 
compared with Spaniards, in America, 
33 ) 34 - 

French and Indian War, 72. See also 
Seven Years' War. 

French government, openly backed the 
South in the Civil War, 272. • 

Freneau, Philip, poet, quoted, 106, 107. 

Frolic and Wasp^ I43. 

Frontier, the first American, 43, 66, 122; 
the newer, 60, 65, 66, 122; England 
forbids colonists to cross, 77; resent- 
ment of colonists on, 78 ; becomes seat 
of democracy by Northwest Ordinance, 
106 ; and^ tidewater, conflict between, 
in Constitutional Convention, 107; 
influence of, on American civilization, 

1 14, 121-124, 304-306, 308; and 
culture, 122, 123; youthfulness a 
characteristic of, 124; success on, 
meaning of, 124, 125; life of, 125-127; 
religion of, 127, 128; pushes North- 
ward, 14 1 ; bred equahtarianism and 
individualism, 173; scars left by, 216, 
218 ; values debased on, 219; in 
California, 232, 233; the problems set 
by, simpler than those of older countries 
or settlements, 242; in Colorado, 244; 
in Kansas, 247; the American Desert, 
288-292 ; the passing of, 303, 306, 312, 
363, 402; the genuine, 304, 305; 
results of the passing of, 306-310, 317 ; 
and the demand for free silver, 330- 
333. 

Frontier spirit, 65, 67. 


Frontiersmen, 66; characteristics of, 
125 ; ^ life of, 125-127. See also 
' Frontier. , 

Frost, A. B., 326. 

Fugitive-slave law, 240. 

Fulton, Robert, his steamboat, 162, 

Gambling, 222. 

Garfield, James A., and railway scandal, 
^ 79 - 

Garrison, William Lloyd, 196; his 
Liberator^ 200. 

George III of England, 87. 

Georgia, constitution of, 104; cotton 
production of, 129; secession of, 256. 

German emigrants, 63, 179, 184; their 
attitude toward England, 66. 

Germans, in America, 288, 311, 370. 

Germantown, Pa., 37. 

Germany, results of Thirty Years' War 
in, 63. World War. 

Gerry, Elbridge, in Constitutional Con- 
vention of 1787, 108. 

Gettysburg, battle of, 263, 

Gettysburg Address, Lincoln's, 267, 268, 
272. 

Ghent, Treaty of, 144, 

Gilbert, Sir Humphrey, 27.^ 

Gilman,^ Daniel Goit, President of Johns 
Hopkins, 301. 

Girarci, Stephen, his wealth, 132, 185, 
187; death, 158. 

Goethals, Col. George W., 3^7. 

Gold, discovery of, in California, 231- 
233 ; discovery of, in Colorado, 243 ; 
attempt to corner, 280, 281 ; issue of, 
in 1896 election, 330-334. 

Gomez, Estevan, voyage of, 12. 

g prgas. Major W. C., 338. 

ouid. Jay, 280, 281, 344. 

Governor^, in American colonies^ 47;r49. 
Grand Canyon, discovery of, 17. 
“Grangers,” 299, 

Grant, Ulysses S., 260, 262, 263, 268; 
corruption during administration of, 
279-281, 

Great War. See World War. 

Greenback Party. See National Green- 
back Party, 

Guadalupe Hidalgo, Treaty of, 230. 
Guerriere and Constitution^ 143. 

Hague Tribunal, 356, 

Hakluyt, Richard, quoted, 26. 

Hall, Judge, quoted, 148, 149. 

Hallam, Mr. and Mrs., actors, 68. 
Hamilton, Alexander, member of Con- 
stitutional Convention (1787), 102, 
107, 108; Secretary of the Treasury 
under Washington, 1 1 1 ; and Jeflerson, 



INDEX 


425 



contrasted, 1 1 1, 1 12 ; financial policies 
of, 112; his economic and political 
doctrines, 113 ; ^ success of his policies, 
130 ; his grandiose schemes, 133 ; and 
Adams, 133, 134 ; killed by Burr in 
duel, 140; quoted, 321, 322. 

Hamiltonianism, 135, 273, 282, 310, 341, 

^^ 347 >: 348 . 

Hancock, John, 84. 

Hanna, Marcus A., 330, 331. 

Harding, Warren G., Senator and Presi- 
dent, 392-394, 397. 

Harper's Ferry, John Brown's raid on, 
248. 

Harriman, Edward H., capitalist, 346, 
348-351. 

Harris, Joel Chandler, 326. 

Harrison, Benjamin, President, 303, 316, 


Harrison, William Henry, at battle of 
Tippecanoe, I42 ; his lies about the 
English, I42, 145; elected President, 
227; death, 228. 

Harte, Francis Bret, 326. 

Hartford Convention, 144, 146. 

Harvard College (University), founding 
of, 43, 68. 

Hawaii, annexed by United States, 361. 
Hawkins, Sir John, 26. 

Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 197, 325; his 
Scarlet Letter^ 272. 

Hay, John, on Lincoln, 267; his open 
door” policy, 356. 

Hay-Pauncefote Treaty, 364. 

Hayes (Rutherford B.)-Tilden (Samuel J.) 

election, 301, 302. 

Haymarket bomb affair, 320, 

Hayne, Senator Robert Y., Webster's 
reply to, 202. 

Hay ti, Columbus at, II. « 

Hearn, Lafcadio, 327. . 

«HeUHwnd,”345. 

Henry, Patrick, 79, 81, 90. 

Henry, Stewart, pioneer, 289, 290. 

Henry, T. a, 293. 

Hepburn Act, 354. 

Hill, James J., railway magnate, 346, 

Hobbes, Thomas, 100. 

Homer, Winslow, 301. 

Homestead Act of 1862, 274, 288, 304. 
Homestead strike, 313, 319. 

Hooker, Rev. Thom as, sermon of, 41 , 
Hoover, Herbert Clark, 393, 398, 399. 
Horse, the, introduced into America, 21. 
Houston, Sam, 209. 

Hughes, Charles Evans, 380. 

Huntington, Collis P., 349. 

Hutchinson, Thomas, Governor of Massa- 
chusetts, 99. 


Illinois, admitted as a State, 155. 

Immigrant ships, conditions on, 66, 67. 

Immigrants, German, 63, 66, 179, 184; 
Irish, 63, 179, 184, 370; Scandinavian, 
288,311, 370. See also^ Immigration. 

Immigration, to the colonies, 63, 66, 178 ; 
from 1790 to 1825, 178; from 1825 to 
1 849, 179, 1 835 during the Civil War, 
274; change in character of, due to 
passing of frontier, 309-315; restric- 
tion of, 395. 

Imperialism, the old, before the Seven 
Years' War, 73 ; the new, after the 
Seven Years' War, 73 ; after the 
passing of the frontier, 309, 310. 

Impressment of seamen, 140. 

Income tax, 319, 323, 329, 364, 3^5* 

Indented servants, 37, 43, 52, 53. 

Indiana, set off from Northwest Territory, 
128; admitted as a State, 155. 

Indians, American, 6-9; their trails, 8 ; 
and the French, 32 ; the English view 
of, 35, 4^> 43 ; wars with, 35 ; white 
pressure on, 35, 36, 205-207 ; as 
slaves, 53; ‘‘treaties” with^between 
1795 and 1809, 141, 142; Tecumseh 
and the battle of Tippecanoe, 142; 
United States adopts a permanent 
policy regarding, 207; their reserve 
invaded, 211, 214, 245; change in 
position of, since the World War, 396. 

Industrialization, of American society, 

’ 273, 274> 276, 295, 308, 30^ 347, 374, 
406; of the South, 329; of the East, 
329. (2/^0 Manufactures, 

Injunctions, 320, 364. 

Intellectual worker, the, 409, 410. 

International Harvester, 398, 

Interstate Commerce Act, 299. 

Interstate Commerce Commission, 354, 

Intolerable Acts, the, 87. 

Iowa, admitted as a state, 214. 

Ireland, exodus of English to, 30; dis- 
tress of, 63 ; emigration from, to 
America, 63, 179. 

Irish, immigrants, 63, 179, 184; in 
America, 370. 

Iroguois, 7, 32. 

Irving, Washington, 1 59, 197. 

Jackson, Andrew, marches into Florida, 
144, 173; in battle of New Orleans, 
144; in election of 1824, 169, 170; 
elected President, 171;^ inauguration 
of, 17 1; the revolt indicated by, 
171-174; his toast at Jefferson birth- 
day^ dinner, 203; declares that the 
Indians have been guaranteed a home, 
207 ; his war on the Bank of the United 
States, 212. 


4^6 


INDEX 


James, William, his Pragmatism, 407. 

Jamestown, settlement of, 27, 28. 

Jay, John, his treaty with England, 118. 

Jeferson, Thomas, and the Declaration 
of Independence, 89 ; struggled for 
emancipation in State constitution, 
104; Secretary of State under Wash- 
ington, III; and Hamilton,^ con- 
trasted, iii-i 13; had no faith in 
city proletarian class or purely mon- 
eyed class, 130, 177; his feith in the 
common man of the soil, 130, 134; 
elected President, 136, 137; quoted 
on farmers, 136; reelected, 140; 
his embargo policy, 140, 141; foresaw 
the evils of too rapid growth, 194, 
195;^ birthday dinner, 203; believed 
acquisition of Louisiana unconstitu- 
tional, 237; quoted on governments, 
4 ® 4 ’* 

Jeffersonianism, 135, 273, 310, 348. 

Jerseys, the, type of culture in, 56. 

Jesuits, French, 32; Spanish, 33. 

Jewett, Sarah Orne, 326, 327. 

Johnson, Andrew, tried to carry out 
Lincoln’s policy for the South, 284, 
285; irrmeachment of, 285. 

Johnston, Gen. A. S., 262. 

Johnston, Gen. Joseph E,, 262. 

Kalm, Peter, 75. 

Kansas, election in, 247 ; constitution of,, 
247. 

Kansas-Nebraska Bill, 246. 

Kaskaskia, settled by French, 32. 

Kellogg Pact, 397. 

Kentucky, 67; admitted as a State 
(1791), 115. 

Kentucky and Virginia nullification 
resolutions, 134. 

Keokuk, 214; dam at, 354. 

Key, Francis S., author of **The Star 
Spangled Banner,” 146. 

‘"Kicking,” 217, 218. 

Kidd, Capt. William, pirate, 51. 

King, Rufus, member of Constitutional 
Convention (1787), 102. 

King Philip’s War, 35. 

Kipling, Rudyard, quoted, 187. 

Knox, Philander C., Attorney-General, 

K^Slux Klan, 286. 

Labor, in the colonies, 37, 38 ; and 
capital, 52, 53, 60, 61, 131, 176-182, 
309, 310; scarcity of, in mill towns, 
157; attitude of mill owners toward, 
181, 182; begins to organize, 183; 
the exploitation of, 200, 201 ; in period 
following the Civil War, 282. 


La Farge, John, 301. 

Lafayette, Marquis de, 145, 369. 

La Foilette, Robert M., 350. 

Laissez fairey in economics, 18 1. 

Land, Westerners default on payment 
for, 150, 225 ; preemption laws, 225, 
226. _ 

Land claims, western, of certain States, 
105. 

Land Law, of 1800, 126, 150; of 1820, 
ISO. 

“Landlord,” city, 157. 

LaSalle, Sieur de, explores Mississippi, 32- 
Law, respect for, in England, 49: in the 
colonies, 49, 50. 

Lawlessness, 50, 192, 193, 222-226, 232, 
^ 33 - 

League of Nations, 387, 388, 391, 394, 

Leavenworth, hort, 210. 

Lee, Gen. Robert E., 258, 260^ 262, 264, 

■ , \ \ 
Legislative power, American view of, 49. 

Leopard and Chesapeake, 1 40. 

Lewis, John, epitaph of, 78. 

Lewis and Clark expedition, 141. 
Lexington, Mass., fight at, 88. 

Liheratory tht, ^oo. 

Library of Congress, 4x3-415. 

Lincoln, Abraham, on lawlessness, 223; 
on slavery, 246, 248, 252; defeated 
by Douglas in Senatorial election, 249; 
nominated for President, 255, 256; 
character of, 264, 265, 403; his de- 
votion to the Union, 266; his address 
at Gettysburg, 267, 268, 272; reeiec- 
tion of,^ 268; his second inaugural, 
268; his plan for reinstatement or 
seceded States, 269, 283; assassination 
•of, 269 ; quoted, 283. 

Lincoln, Mrs. Abraham, 269. 

Lindsay, Vachel, quoted, 396. • * 

Literature, 159, 197, 325-327. 

Livingston, Robert, American Minister 
at Paris, 139. 

Livingstons, the, 64, 99. 

Lobbies, 360. 

Locke, John, 100. 

Ix)dge, Henry Cabot 336, 337, 392, 394. 
Lodge, Mrs. Henry Cabot, 331, '512. 
Longfellow, Henry W., 197, 325. 
Louisburg, capture of (1745)," 76. 
Louisiana Territory, ceded' by Spain to 
France, 129, 138; purchased by 

United States, 139, 145, ,^47; and 
slavery, 161; as to constitutionality 
of its acquisition, 237, 238. 

Louisiana (State), admitted to Union, 
155; secession of, 257; disputed 
returns from, in 1876 election, 302. 



INDEX 


427 


Louisiana of Marietta, 11 

Lowell, James Russell, 257, 272, 325; 
his Biglow Papers, 252. 

Loyalists, 91. 

Lusitania, the sinking of the, 378, 

“Lynch law,*' 222. 

McAdam, John Loudon, his invention 
in road-making, 162, 

McClellan, Gen. G. B., 263. 

McGosh, James, President of Princeton, 
301. 

McCoy, Joseph G., 291, 293. 

Mackinder, H. J., reference to, 374. 

McKinley, William, 318, 324; accepts 
gold plank of Republican platform, 
330; and the Spanish War, 335-337; 
rejected, 340; assassinated, 341, 350. 

McKinley Tariff Bill, 316, 318, 329. 

Madison, James, merhber of Constitu- 
tional Convention (1787}, 102, 107; 
struggled for emancipation in State 
constitution, 104 ; as President, 142. 

Maine,- attempt at settlement of, 28; 
admitted as a State, 1 61. 

Maine ^ the, destruction of, 335, 336. 

“Manifest Destiny,” 227, 231. 

Manila, battle of, 337. 

Manufactures, increase of, in Northern 
States, 156, 166, 175. See also In- 
dustrialization. 

Marhury-v .Madison, * 

“ Mark Twain.” Clemens, Samuel L. 

Marshall, John, appointed Chief Justice 
of the Supreme Court, 136; his opinion 
in Marhury pv. Madison, 139; ex- 
pounds Constitution, 139, 165. 

Martin, Luther, struggled for emanci- 
pation in State constitution, 104. 

Maryland, conditions of life in, in 16^, 
37 ; ^ landholdings in, 62 ;• German 
irrflfnigJ-ants secured for, 64, 

Mason, Col. George, struggled for eman- 
cipation in State constitution, 104; 
in Constitutional Convention of 1787, 
108,321. ■ 

Mass production, 156, 358, 395^ 393, 405 ; 
in things material and in the realm 
of the mind, 409, 410. 

Massachusetts, conditions inj after the 
Re volu tion, 98 ; rebellion in (Shays ’S 
Rebellion), 99, loi; its holding of 
national debt, 135; separation of 
Church and State in, 1 58 ; her position 
in national history, 253. 

Massachusetts Antislavery Society, 203. 

Massachusetts Bay Colony, 29, 31 ; 
development of democratic feeling 
and outlook in, 40; charter of, 40; 
forfeits charter, 48. 


Matamoras, 230. 

Maximilian, established as ruler in 
Mexico by Napoleon, 272. 

May, Col. John, 148, 149. 

Mayas, 3, 8. 

May flower, 

Mayflower Covenant, 29, 39, 49, 100. 

Meade, Gen. G. G., 263. 

Mellon, Andrew W., 399. 

Melville, Herman, hss Mohy ’Dick, 234, 
272. 

Mercantile “aristocracy,” rise of, 13 1. 

Merchant marine, 182, 183. 

Mexican War, the, 229, 230. 

Mexico, ^ in prehistoric times, scenery 
and climate of, 6 ; precious stones and 
metals of, 6; inhabitants of, 8, 9; 
conquest of, 12-15; the civilization 
introduced by Spaniards in, 19, 20; 
University of, 20; Cathedral of, 20; 
of Spanish Empire, 121; declares 
independence, 153, 208; Maximilian 
in, 272; Wilson’s policy in regard to, 
3 b 4 > 365- 

Michaelius, Dominie, 35. 

Michigan, admitted as a State, 214. 

“Middle Passage,” 66. 

Middle West, 233, 234. 

“Midnight judges,” 136. 

Mill work, 13 1, 157. See also Work. 

Miller, Joaquin, 326. 

^Milwaukee, Wis., 214, 31 1. 

Minnesota, 31 1. 

Missions, French, ^ 32 ; Spanish, 33. 

Mississippi, admitted as a State, 155; 
secession of, 257. 

Mississippi River, discovery of, 16; 
explored by La Salle, 32; French 
empire in valley of, 33; outlet for 
Western produce, 115; right of navi- 
gating, granted by Spain, 118; the 
new empire of, 1 19 ; closed to American 
commerce, 138 ; traffic on, 221. 

Missouri, admitted as slave State, 161; 
progress of, 288, 

Missouri Compromise, 161, 19^ 238; 
breaking-down of the line of, 245 ; 
repeal of, 246, 

Mitchell, John, 351-353. 

Molasses Act of 1733, 50. 

Money, becomes a power in American 
life, 132; the goal of American efforts, 
189-192; the making of, raised to a 
virtue, 1 91-194, 224, 225; cheap, 300, 
324. 

Moneyed class, rise of, 130-132, 135, 
13^,176. 

Monroe, James, special envoy to France, 
139; on Western demands, 167. 

Monroe Doctrine, 167, 168, 373. 


428 . INDEX 

Monterey# founding of, lai* 144; importance of, as a port, 163, 

Montezuma, Aztec king, 14* ^^20. 

„ Montgomery, Ala., first capital of the New York, in 1700, 46; type of culture 
Confederacy, 257. . in, 56, 57; as a port, 56; dependent 

Moral values, confusion of, 194,. 195. * upon fur trade, 56 ; land grants in, 

Moran, Thomas, So I. ' ■ 64; orchestral coricerts in, 68; sen- 

Morgan, J. P., 319, 341, 344-346. , timent in, as regards the Revolutionary 

Mormons, 231, 247. War, 91; law in, discouraging large 

Morrill Act, 288. ^ ^ parcels of land, 105; and the Erie 

Morris, Gouverneur, in Constitutional Canal, 364; described about 1840 
Convention of 1787, 107. as a busy communit;^, 186. 

Morris, Robert, member of Constitu- New York Civil Service Reform Asso- 
tional Convention (1787), 102. ciation, 302. 

“Muckraking,** 353. New York Sun, quoted, 186. 

Murfree, Mary N., 327. Newberry, Senator Truman H., 392. 

Newfoundland, 15. 

Napoleon Bonaparte, and Louisiana, Newport, Rhode Island, a centre of 
I3 ^jL 39>H5; and England, 144, 14S; trade, 58. 
establishes Maximilian as ruler in Niagara, French fort at, 32, 

Mexico, 272. Nicholpn, Sir IFrancis, Governor of 

Narvaez, ^ 5* , . Virginia, 75. 

Na tehees, Miss., in possession of Spain, Non-importation agreement, 80, 

116. ' ^ ^ ^ North, the, 129, 330, 132; increase of 

National Conservation Commission, 355. manufactures in, 15S, ^ 156, 166; 

National Greenback Party, 300. breaking down of economic democracy 

Nationalism, the force of, 259. in, 158 ; the dying out of Puritanism 

Naturalization Act, 134. in, 158, 159; the South becomes set 

Nebraska, and Kansas, 246; develop- off from, 160, 1 61 ; its need of a market, 

mentof, 288. 161 ; industrialization of (1830-1850), 

Negro melody, 70. ^ 175-234; and the South, growth of 

Negro slavery, in the colonies, 53. See antagonism between, 199-204, 250- 

Slavery. ^ 255*^ the type of life in, 250, 251; 

Nevada, 230. . , English upper-class opinion strongly 

New England, migration to, 35, 36; against, in the Civil War, 271 ; French 

“blue laws** of, 36; business in, 57, government hostile to, in the Civil 

58; type of mind and character in. War, 272; prosperity of, during the 

58-60; land grants in, 64, 65; emi- Civil War, 274, 275. See also New 

grants from, to the “Western Reserve,** England. 

1 14; textile mills of, 13 1; nullifies North Carolina, English attempt at 
embargo, 143; opposes war with * settlement in, 18; civil war in, 85; 

England (1812), 143; threatens se- Constitution of, 304; secession of, 

cession, 143, 144; disloyalty of (ifi 3 2- 257. • ^ 

1814), 144, 146; decreased national Northern Securities Company, 348, 353. 
influence of, 346; increase of manu- Northwest Ordinance, 105, no. 
factures in, 155, 156; breaking down Nullification, in the colonies, 50, 192; 
of life of, 357; the breaking of the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions, 

hold of Congregationalism in, 358, 134; of embargo by New England, 

159* . 143; of tariff of 3832 by South Caro- 

New England Antislavery Society, 203. lina, 203; of national statutes, 225. 
“New England conscience,** 55. 

New Englander, description of, 186. Ohio, admitted as a State, 128, 154. 

New Hampshire, constitution of, 103. Ohio Company, 148. 

New Mexico, Indians of, 7; early history Ohio country, 115, 
of, 33; acquired by United States, “Ohio fever,** 148. 

230; not adapted to slavery, 239, Ohio River, 148, 

245; admitted as a State, 361. Oklahoma, 246. 

New Orleans, in possession of Spain, “Ol* Man River,’* in quotation, 235. 

1 1 6, 123 ; right of shipping goods Mississippi River, 

granted by Spain, 118; Omaha, Neb., 288. 
influence in, 120; battle of, ** Open door,** 356. ' 



. M.- .... . I . 

i* . - v„ > . - . p:,s^ i ^ „ji . r . 

'■ :: ■: 

■■ INDEX ■» 


optimism, 184. ^ 

Orders in Council, against American 
commerce, 140, 142, 143. 

Oregon, 210, 21 1; compromise with 
British on, 229; ^ disputed returns 
from, in 1876 election, 302, 

. Oregon Trail, 210, 245. 

Orient, way to, 25, 26, 

Otis, ^ James, argues against "writs of 
assistance,’" 79. 

Panama Canal, 356, 357, 364. 

Panic, following the Revolution, 99; 
of 1819, 151,168 ; of 1837, .181, 212, 
213; of 1857, 241 ; of 1 873, 282; of 1884, 
317; of 1893, 319, 320 ; of 1901, 351; 
of 1907, 35f; of I929> 399- 
Papier blockades, 14 1. 

Paris, Treaty of (1763), 70 , 72, 75; 

(1783), 1 17, 120; (i%8), 337; (1919), 
^3923393* . . 

Pans Exposition of 1900, -327. 
Parliament, English, American colonists 
not directly represented in, 48, 49. 
Pastorius, ^ quoted on the Germans 
arriving in Germantown, 37. 

Paterson, William, member of Consti- 
tutional Convention (1787), 102. 
Patrons of Husbandry ("Grange”), 299. 
Peace Commission, 392. 

.Peace Conference at Versailles, 252, 
386-389,392. ’ 

Penn family, 105. 

Pennell, Joseph, 326. 

Pennsylvania, type of culture in, 56; 
emigration of Germans and Scotch- 
Irish to, 63 ; on verge of civil war, 85 ; 
sentiment in, as regards the Revolu- 
tionary War, 91 ; constitution of, 103, 
104; confiscated estates in, 105. 
Pennsylvania “Dutch,” 294. - 

Peopfe’s f^arty, 323. 

Pequot War, 35. 

Perry, Oliver Hazard^ his victory over 
the English on Lake Erie, 143. 

Peru, conquest of, 15. 

Petition, attempt to abrogate right of, 
238. 

Philadelphia, in 1700, 46; in 1763, 56, 57; 
emigration of Germans into, 63 ; emi- 
gration of Scotch-Irish to, 63 ; Con- 
stitutional Convention held at (1787), 
tor, 102, 107-109 ; World’s Fair at, 301* 
Philippines, the, 336-340. 

Pike, &buIon M., expedition of, 141. 
“Pilgrims,” the, 28-30. 

Pinckney, C. C., member of Constitu- 
tional Convention (1787), 102; strug- 
gled for emancipation in State consti- 
tution, 104. 


Pineda, Alonso de, his from 

Florida to Vera Cruz, 12. ' i 

Pinkney, William, quoted, 141. , ^ 

Pirates, 51. 

Pitt, WiUiam (Lord Chatham), 78. . 

Pittsburgh, Pa,, 138, 

Pizarro, Francisco, his conquest of Peru, 
.■I5v 

Piatt Amendment, 336. 

Plymouth Colony, 28-30, 127. 

Political parties, Federalist, no, 133; 
Anti-Federalist, 1 10 ; Republican (first), 
133 ; Republican (second), 246 ; Demo- 
cratic, 249; Grangers, 299; National 
Greenback, 300 ; People’s, 323 ; “ Popu- 
lists,” 323, 330; Prohibition, 330; 
“Bull Moose,” 361; Progressive. 301. 

Political system, organization of (1900), 
347* 

Polk, James K., nominated for Presidency, 
228 ; typified the movement of expan- 
sion, 228 ; as President, 228-230, 238. 

Pontiac’s Conspiracy, 77. 

“Poor whites,” 287. 

Population, increase in, 183, 1B4, 215, 
216, 240; expansion of, to the West, 
227. 

“Populists,” 323, 330. 

Porto Rico, 336-340. 

Portsmouth, Treaty of, 357, 358. 

Pownall, Thomas, Governor of Massa- 

. chusetts, 98. 

Preemption laws, 225, 226. 

Princeton College, 68. 

Progressive Party, 361. 

Prohibition Amendment, 250, 251, 393. 

Prohibitionists, 330. 

Propaganda, preceding Revolutionary 
War, 82-84; in the Great War, 370, 
373> 332, 390, 391. 

Property, 175; rights of, and rights of 
man, 107,324,329. 

Prophet, the, brother of Tecumseh, 142. 

Public opinion, 360. 

“Pueblo^’ Indians, 7. 

Pullman strike, 319, 320, 

Pure Food Act, 354. 

Puritanism, widely accepted among 
American colonists, 36 ; unhappy in- 
heritance left by, 44; of the South, 55 ; 
of New England, 5 5, 59 ; the dying out 
of, in the North, 158, 159. 

Puritans, persecution or, 30. 

Putnam, Dr. Herbert, 414. 

Quartering Act, 80. 

Quebec, foundation of, 32. 

Quetzalcoatl, Aztec deity, 9 ; return of, 14. 

Quincy, Josiah, Jr., defends British offi- 
cer^ 84; reference to, 13 1; threatens 


430 


INDEX 


Qumcy, Josiah, Jr. {Continued) 
secession of New England in Congress, 
143 ; opposes addition of Louisiana and 
admission of new States, 143, 147. 

Race, influence of, on American life, lai, 
'■ ,.'122. , , ■ ■ ^ ^ . 

Railways, importance of, in averting 
union of the West with the South, 244, 
245; transcontinental, 245, 246, 277, 
278; scandal connected with their 
/ construction, 278, 279; strikes, 282; 

abuses of, 298-'300. 

Raleigh, Sir Walter, 27. 

Reconstruction in the South, 287. 
Reconstruction Act, 285. 

Reed, Major Waiter, 338. 

Regulators, 85, 87. 

Reid, Whitelaw, 331, 332. 

Religion of frontier, 127, 128. 

Religious sects in colonies, 32. 
Representation, in Pennsylvania, 103 ; 

according to the Constitution, 107-109. 
Representative assembly, the first in 
Western hemisphere convened, 28. 
Republican Party (first), 133, 136; 
(second), 246, 283-285, 287, 294, 295, 
300-303, 323, 330, 

Republican Silver Act. ^ See Sherman 
Silver Purchase and Coinage Act. 
Revolution of 1689 in England, 63. 
Revolutionary War, 135 ; not connecte{| 
with expulsion of France from America^ 
75, 76; acts leading up to, 77-80, 87, 
88;^ sentiment in the colonies for and 
against, 80, 86, 91-93; the years pre- 
ceding, divided into three periods, 82; 
opening events of, 88 ; and growth of 
democracy, 88-90; and weakening of 
conservative thought, 90; saved by 
Washington and European powers, 90, 
91 ; Loyalists, 91, 92; treaty of peace, 
93 ; inheritances of, 93-95 ; the Ameri- 
can army in, 97; conditions in the 
States following, 96-99; why it did 
not follow the course of most revolu- 
tions, 99, 100. 

Rhode Island, entire religious liberty in, 
40; government of 48. 

Riis, Jacob A., 367. 

Riley, Major, 210. 

River traffic, 220-222. 

Roads, 162. 

Roberts, Marshall 0 ., reports on city 
administration of New York, 279. 
Rockefeller, John B., 345; fortune, 299; 
group, 344. 

Roosevelt, Nicholas, his steamboat, 162. 
Roosevelt, Theodore, and the Spanish 
War, 335-337 ; becomes Vice President, 


340; becomes President, 34 1, 350; the 
*'get rich quick and develop fast'' state 
of mind marked in, 346 ; proceeds 
against the trusts, 351; and the coal 
strike, 352, 353; his “square deal," 
353; and the capitalists, 355; and 
Venezuela, 356; his dealings with 
Colombia, 356, 357 ; brings about 
Peace of Portsmouth, 357, 358; de- 
clines to run for third term, 359; his 
service, 359, 363; his place among 
Presidents, 359; organizes “Bull 
Moose" party, 3^, 361 ; and Wilson, 
39L392. 

“Rough Riders, ' 337. 

Russell, Lord John, 265. 

Russian Mennonites, 294. 

Russo-Japanese War, 357. 

Rutgers College, 68. 

Ryan, Edward I G., Chief Justice of 
Wisconsin, address of, 297. 

Sailors, American, driven from mer- 
chant marine, 182, 183. 

St. Augustine, settlement of, 28; fort 
built at, 18. 

St. Clair, Governor of Northwest Terri- 
tory, 128. 

St. Johns Ri very Florida, 18. 

St. Lawrence River, 1 5, 33. 

St. Louis, Mo., 120, 288, 311. 

San i^tonio, 121 ; founding of, 33. 

San Francisco, founding of, 72, Tai ; after 
the discovery of gold in California, 232. 

San Jos6, founding of, 1 21. 

San Salvador, arnval of Columbus at, 10. 

Santa Anna, 209. 

Santa Barbara, founding of, 1 21 . 

Santa Cruz, founding ol, 121. 

Santa F6, 1 21 ; founding of, 33. 

Santa F6*Trail, 210, 245, 396, 

Sault Sainte Marie, settled bj French, 

‘ Scalawags,’* 286, 

Scandinavians, in Northern States, 288, 
311,370. 

Schuylersj, the, 64. 

Scotch-Insh emigrants, 63 ; their hatred 
of England, 66. 

Scott, Gen. Winfield, suppresses Indian 
rising, 207 ; in Mexican War, 230. 

“Scrap of paper," 371. 

Search, right of, claimed by England, I40. 

Secession, threatened by New England, 
143; of Southern States, 256, 257. 
See also CWil^Bx. 

Sectionalism, 238-240, 249-255, 277. 

Seminoies, 206, 207. 

Senators, direct election of, 365, 

Seven Years* War, 50, 72, 73, 76, 85, 96. 



INDEX 


431 





Seward, William H,, 255, 256, 265; his 
plan for ending disruption of the 
Union, 265. 

Shays, Capt. Daniel, his rebellion, 99, 

lOI. 

Shenandoah, the, valley of, 63, 64. 

Sherman, Roger, member of Constitu- 
tional Convention (1787), 102. 

Sherman, Gen. W. T., 263, 276. 

Sherman Anti-Trust Act, 316, 323, 351. 

Sherman Silver Purchase and Coinage 
Act, 318; silver-purchasing clause of, 
repealed, 319. 

Shipping, 131,^156, 166 175. 

Shreve, Capt Henry M., 220. 

Sidney, Algernon, 100. 

Silver, free coinage of, 323, 324, 330-333. 
See also Sherman Silver Purchase and 
Coinage Act ^ 

Sims, Admiral William^ 370. 

Size, the American belief in, 215-218. 

Slater, Samuel, introduces cotton ma- 
chinery into United States,^ 1 13. 

Slave trade, in state constitutions, 104. 

Slavery, Indian, 53; negro, 53; how 
regarded in 1787, 104; prohibited in 
Northwest Territory, 106; the ques- 
tion of, in the West, 152 ; regulation 
concerning, in Missouri Compromise, 
161; as a rising cloud in 1850, 199-204, 
234; sectional feeling aroused by, 23